by Calvin Ishee

After a very tension filled and robust discussion, the Pass Christian School Board voted to allow Dr. Carla Evers, Pass Christian School District Superintendent to look at both paid and unpaid options for getting an outside source to review the School District’s Insurance Program. The purpose of the review is to ensure that the District has the right level of insurance for all of the various school’s  functions (e.g. auto insurance, liability, etc).  BXS Insurance Company has insured the District for many years and the independent review would access the current coverage to ensure it provides adequate coverage that meets the needs of the District. Along with several members of the Board, Dr. Evers made it clear that they were very happy with the services provided by BXS and that this discussion shouldn’t reflect negatively on the company.

Pass Christian School Board member Avra O’Dwyer told the Board that it was time to “shop around” and get quotes from other insurance companies.  She stated that  “I’m a business person and shop my insurance every year” and have saved thousands of dollars.  The discussion somehow went “sideways” and the discussion became somewhat heated between Board President Margaret Jean Kalif and O’Dwyer. When O’Dwyer commented, “this has never been looked at before”, Kalif retorted that “we have looked at it before”.  O’Dwyer stated that the Board could remain “complacent”, however, she just wanted to do what’s in the best interest of the students, District and for the taxpayers.

School District Attorney Mark Alexander noted that an independent review would be beneficial and that it was a good thing to have an outside source review “how we do our insurance”.  He commented that it would be a “very worthwhile” experience to look at the District’s insurance from a “risk management” perspective. He also noted that the company offering to do the review for between $1,500 and $3,000 had committed to a 10 year moratorium on seeking business with the District.

Board Member Scott Naugle who is Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President with BXS Insurance Company, the current insurer for the District, also favors an external review of the School District’s Insurance Program.  He also stated that perhaps the District should hire a broker vice a company because they could shop around for the best coverage at the best price.

Board Member Cecil Lizana commented, “let the Superintendent go out and test the waters to get the best insurance we can get”. In the end the only Board Member voting against the measure was O’Dwyer.  Dr. Evers stated that she appreciated the “healthy debate”. She also added, “Tonight we took steps to ensure that we are doing what is right for our district and community as it relates to our insurance premiums. For over 20 years, we have received stellar service from our provider who successfully guided us through our Katrina years. In an effort to be fiscally responsible, we feel it is time to have a third party review our practices to ensure we are getting the best coverage and premium”.

According to Dr. Evers, “Phase one of the review involves evaluating our practices. From there we will know if there needs to be any changes with our procedures around selecting brokers and insurance representatives.”

In other business, Paige Bromen, School District Chief Financial Officer reported that the District was in a healthy financial position and that the mileage tax rate had been lowered over the past few years. The Board voted to keep the same officers in place with Lizana being the only negative vote. When asked why he voted no , Lizana simply stated, “no comment”.

In her Superintendent’s report, Dr. Evers highlighted numerous success stories within the District in both academics as well as sports. She also noted that she was able to successfully renegotiate new fees with BXS Insurance resulting in a savings of forty five thousand dollars. The District carries sixty million dollars in coverage and if an unfortunate incident occurred, the maximum payout for the District would be two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

The next meeting had been scheduled for April 21st.