CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - The Calcasieu Parish School Board is still facing a $3.1 million budget deficit for the 2014-2015 school year. That deficit played a role in how board members voted Tuesday regarding a change in insurance policies for student athletes.?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /
Last year the board called for a committee to find out how to deal with ever-increasing premiums.
Tuesday, the committee recommended an option that's within budget, but completely different from the policy that's been in place for more than a decade.
Risk Manager Skylar Giardina says in just four years, premium costs have almost doubled.
"And as you can see our premiums continue to rise each year," said Giardina.
To work ahead, the CPSB voted last year for staff to form a student athletic insurance committee to look at other options.
Giardina says it was, "Composed of administrators and coaches at the high school and middle school level."
That committee found only 3.55% or 182 student athletes are uninsured, which raised a question.
"Do you want to pay $697,710 to have primary coverage for a small amount of people?" asked Giardina.
On top of that, the committee was given a $300,000 budget. So they got to work and compiled four options for the board - only recommending one.
"We're going to a straight voluntary policy now so basically every parent of student athletes are going to have to show proof of insurance or Medicaid and if they cannot provide proof they're going to be required to purchase the voluntary policy in order for their child to participate in student athletics," explained Giardina.
However the district will still carry catastrophic coverage.
"So regardless if you've chosen the voluntary route or not, if your child is injured while playing sports and their claim reaches $25,000 this policy will kick in," added Giardina.
Both committee and board members are expecting push back, however they say it comes down to fiscal responsibility.
"We're up here making fiduciary decisions everyday and trying to keep our classrooms number one and the amount of money that has increased exponentially over the past few years is at a rate that we just can't afford," said CPSB member Billy Breaux.
Some questioned how they would address those who can't afford to pay for the coverage.
Others CPSB members, like Joe Andrepont said, "I feel certain that if these students want to participate that booster clubs and what not can respond to help those athletes."
After discussion, the board voted to approve option four and will begin notifying schools of the changes starting Wednesday.
The policy will differ in prices depending on the athlete. For example, high school football players could pay anywhere from $125-$135 depending on their grade level.
However, non-football sports in high school and all of middle school could pay anywhere from $35-$132 depending on whether they choose school time coverage or 24-hour coverage.
Giardina says they'll be holding educational meetings for parents in the coming weeks to address concerns or questions.