School district faces $215,000 assessment in KSBIT deficit payoff

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By Becky Barnes

While Kentucky’s school districts are scrambling to make up a nearly $60 million deficit in the Kentucky School Boards Insurance Trust (KSBIT), Harrison County is sitting marginally better off than most.

Yes, Harrison County is one of over 100 districts who will be forced to help bail out KSBIT. However, while many of the school districts will be scrambling to find other insurance options, Harrison County’s administration did that two years ago.

According to Julie Asher, school district finance officer, Harrison County opted out of KSBIT two years ago for workers compensation insurance and three years ago on general liability.

Superintendent Andy Dotson said it became a premium issue for Harrison County to seek other insurance alternatives.

However, leaving the struggling KSBIT did not eliminate the district’s liability to them.

According to Dotson, based on a high estimate of $60 million, Harrison County would be responsible to over $215,000, an amount that took administrators by surprise.

The first surprise came in January when the district received a letter stating that Harrison County would be among those responsible for recovering the deficit. The second surprise came last week when the preliminary assessments were issued.

“The assessment is a little bigger than what I anticipated,” said Asher.

Dotson said he has questions about Harrison County’s assessment.

“My obvious question is how did the numbers come up the way they did?” he said, noting that the figures the administrators received on Feb. 7 are preliminary and not necessarily what will have to be paid.

“Our hopes are that they will come in a whole lot less,” Dotson said.

Asher said KSBIT had a formula that took into account the number of years the district was part of the workers’ compensation and liability insurance pool, the amount of claims made by the district and the premium.

The Department of Insurance and the KSBIT board each had to approve the formula and that has been done, said Assistant Superintendent Dee Gee Fischer.

KSBIT was started in 1978 as a non-profit self-insured program. The deficit years are 1990 to 2011 for workers compensation and 1993-2011 for general liability.

Fischer explained that school districts will have the option of participating in a payment recovery over 10 to 20 years.

The administrators said that while Harrison County’s $215,000 is bad enough, they sympathize with neighboring districts such as Paris Independent, which has been assessed at $263,662; Bourbon County at $431,816; Nicholas at 276,946; and Fleming at $365,559. The smaller districts of Pendleton and Robertson will be responsible for an estimated $138,460 and $86,174, respectively.

“I don’t think anyone is going to be real quick to pay this,” said Asher.

 “We’re going to take the wait and see approach at this time,” said Dotson, who added that this year’s Kentucky School Boards Association meetings are scheduled for Feb. 22-24. “It should be very interesting at KSBA.”