School Board may revisit insurance

The Jamestown Public School Board may revisit an issue it voted upon about six weeks ago because some members say they weren't given enough information.

The Jamestown Public School Board may revisit an issue it voted upon about six weeks ago because some members say they weren't given enough information.

School Board members Tanya Ostlie and Shelly Jystad said they may have voted differently had the district provided them with more information regarding the increase to the JPS health insurance premium as well as other district needs.

In August, the administration asked the School Board to reopen negotiations with the Jamestown Education Association in regard to what the School Board funds for health insurance.

The district was considering tripling health insurance premiums because expenses for the self-funded insurance program were up about $500,000. The district has a $1.3 million surplus in its general fund from the previous year, so the board considered reopening negotiations and contributing more. As per the negotiated agreement, the board is contributing $2 million to the insurance program for the 2010-2011 school year.

A motion to reopen the negotiated agreement was defeated in a 5-4 vote with Greg Allen, Rosemary McDougall, Roy Musland and Scott Walch voting in favor and Gail Martin, Shelly Jystad, Tanya Ostlie, Gary Peterson and Heidi Larson opposed.


Jystad and Ostlie said they may have voted to reopen negotiations had they known the other needs of the district. They said they voted "no" on the motion because they expected to learn more about the district's other needs and then re-vote to open negotiations later. Once members knew all the district needs and other expenses, the board could prioritize and vote whether to consider allocating some of the $1.3 million surplus to health insurance.

"I thought this was going to be brought back," Ostlie said.

Board member Gail Martin said she understood the health insurance issue was final once the board voted at the August meeting. She didn't think the board needed to revisit the issue.

"I knew exactly what I was voting on that night," she said.

But before the board can potentially rehash the issue, it first has to determine if reconsidering, rescinding or renewing a motion is even allowed. Once a vote is made, it's unclear if a board can revisit the issue and vote on the same motion. Superintendent Bob Toso said he would get an opinion from the North Dakota School Boards Association.

President Greg Allen said administration should re-examine the meeting's minutes and recordings.

In other business, the community meeting for athletic enhancement Wednesday will be a more round-table type discussion rather than the open mike forum originally planned.

Ostlie said some people feel uncomfortable ap-proaching the board at the public in front of the microphone and the media, but may feel more inclined to share their opinions in a smaller group setting.


Martin said the public could meet in smaller groups at various tables and after an hour or so, the consensus of the table could be reported to the full group.

Member Rosemary McDougall said the board should consider holding open meetings like this on days besides Wednesday. Wednesdays are sometimes difficult because community members have religious or family obligations.

In regard to enhancing athletics, the district is considering surveying students to learn their opinions on the issue. Toso said he was also considering facilitating a small group of student athletes so he could hear their opinions as well. Jystad suggested a school counselor facilitate the student-athlete meetings because counselors don't have the disciplinary role that administrators like Toso have.

The district may also team up with Jamestown College to conduct a survey as well.

Also, Jamestown High School Principal Bill Nold reported on the school's dual-credit program. JHS offers some courses in which a student can receive both high school and university credit. The courses cost the students about $45 per credit, or about 30 percent of typical university tuition costs, Nold said. Courses offered include anatomy and physiology, U.S. history, Spanish, psychology, world literature, economics and pre-calculus.

Nold said if students take dual-credit courses, they may graduate college early or take more college courses they wouldn't have been able to otherwise.

Also, the district has spent most of its $3.2 million in stimulus funds, said Sally Ost, business manager. It has about $586,000 left to spend by Sept. 30, 2001. That money is allocated for expenses like salaries, computer equipment and conferences and professional development, she said.

In other business, the district is looking into adding new locks or some form of security to about 45 doors at Jamestown High School. The doors lock from the outside, but not the inside, which may pose an issue in the case of a school shooting.


"It's never a situation until it's a situation," said Musland.

Also, the board approved a rotation schedule for members to attend National School Board Conventions. The rotation is based on years of experience, attendance at state school board association conventions and if the member had attended a national convention in the past. Toso designed the rotation after five members volunteered to attend the upcoming National School Board Convention. At the last School Board meeting, the board voted the district should pay to send no more than three School Board members.

Sun reporter Katie Ryan-Anderson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by e-mail at

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