Congratulations 2019 Boot Camp Attendees
NMASBO held another successful Boot Camp October 14-18, with 21 attendees. Congratulations to the class of 2019 Boot Camp Survivors.
Stan’s Straight Talk November 2019
Stan Rounds, Executive Director, NMCEL
November is a time of thanksgiving and a time when districts are looking forward to the holidays. It is a time, now, when districts are anticipating the outcomes of their Board elections and the outcomes of voter support for bonds and mil levies. This newest “fall tradition” is a new experience for us and adds even more anticipation into our holidays. As I have talked to many district administrators this fall, there seems to be questions about several realities.
NMSU SOAR just released the 2019 New Mexico Educator Vacancy Report (see it on our website). This work has been our “weather-vane” for staffing trends and the trends for teacher educator enrollment and completion. This year’s results show a 13% decrease in total vacancies over last year. This year, total vacancies totaled 1,054. Of these, there were still 644 teacher vacancies statewide. By region, the teacher vacancies were as follows: Central Region – 309; Northeast Region – 27; Northwest Region – 96; Southeast – 147; Southwest – 65.
When we review the “heatmap” of identified openings we find that the most openings, are for Elementary Teachers (173), Special Education Teachers (151), High School Teachers (122), and Middle School Teachers (112). When we view the need by subject area, the results are not dissimilar from last year with the following openings specific to subject: Math (62); ELA (46); Science (46); Music (34); Social Studies (25); General Education (17); Health/PE (17); Visual and Performing Arts (13); Technology/Media (12); Multiple Subjects (10); Spanish (6); FACS (6).
As we look forward to teacher availability, I am concerned with the continuing downtrend of both enrollment admissions and completions from our colleges of education in total (including Alternative and Traditional). Admits have decreased 4% over last year (-47) and, significantly, completers have decreased 12% (-97) from last year. Over the last 10 years, the number of completers has decreased 43%. This trend is likely to continue and signals an ongoing crisis for New Mexico Public Schools. We urge you to become active in assisting us to find solutions. Our children deserve nothing less.
Additionally, we continue to see high turnover of our superintendents throughout New Mexico. So far, in this last turnover cycle, we have seen the turnover of 32/89 superintendents. That is a turnover rate of 35.9%. This trend, if unchecked, is sure to cause a significant impediment to maintain consistency of planning, growth, and stability for New Mexico schools. The NMSSA continues to work to support new superintendents through an intentionally designed mentoring process. This process brings seasoned, veteran superintendents as mentors. We seek to build the professional relationships and networks of support to assure that the superintendents in New Mexico are successful.
Recruitment and retention of our teacher corps and our administrative corps must continue to be a top priority for us. We need to assure that we rebuild the foundation of quality instructional and leadership personnel. When placed in terms that the Courts have ordered in Yazzie/Martinez, the constitutional imperative is clear.
Chris Parrino, Charter Rep
The following represents an overview of NMPSIA programs and a financial update. Should you desire more information, feel free to contact Mr. Chris Parrino, NMPSIA School Business Official Board Representative at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also contact Ms. Ernestine Chavez, Executive Director, NMPSIA, at email@example.com, or Mr. Richard Valerio, Deputy Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 1.800.548.3724.
The next Board meeting is scheduled for 9:00 A.M., Thursday, December 5, 2019. The meeting will be held at Cooperative Educational Services, 4216 Balloon Park Rd NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87109. The agenda will be made available on www.nmpsia.com.
Ms. Ernestine Chavez serves as the NMPSIA Executive Director. Ms. Chavez oversees all NMPSIA related services, including the Risk and Benefits Programs.
Mr. Richard Valerio serves as Deputy Director. Mr. Valerio assists Ms. Chavez with managing the work of the agency and continues to work jointly with the Chief Financial Officer in overseeing the Agency’s budget and Financial Division.
Mr. Patrick Sandoval serves as Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Sandoval works primarily with the Agency’s budget and investments and oversees the Financial Division.
NMPSIA will soon be seeking to fill positions for a Chief Procurement Officer and a Financial Specialist. You may contact Mr. Patrick Sandoval, Chief Financial Officer, NMPSIA, for any inquiries at email@example.com, or call 1.800.548.3724.
Pursuant to authorization of the NMPSIA Board and the Health Care Purchasing Act, NMPSIA is in the process of procuring group medical, dental, and vision benefits coverage. The due date for proposal submissions by offerors for the procurement is December 10, 2019. The intent is to have new contracts in effect July 1, 2020. Any premium changes will be deferred to October 1, 2020. A full and complete copy of the Request for Proposal may be obtained from the Albuquerque Public Schools website: https://www.aps.edu/procurement/current-bids-and-rfps.
The FY20 Board-approved medical and dental premium increases for FY20 went into effect on October 1, 2019. The blended medical premium increase is 5.6% (5.9% increase on the High Option Medical Plans and EPO Medical Plan, and a 3.1% increase on the Low Option Medical Plan). The dental plan increase is 5%. The dental plan premium had not been increased for several years and claims have been outpacing revenue. There were no medical plan changes. The following benefit enhancements will be going into effect:
- Voluntary Smart 90 Program – This program is providing a voluntary option to members to fill 90-day supplies of maintenance medications from chosen retail network (chain pharmacies or certain statewide independent pharmacies). The program reduces waste from non-adherence, increases plan savings and improves care and convenience for members. Effective January 1, 2020. A list of participating pharmacies will be posted on www.nmpsia.com by January 1, 2020. The Voluntary Smart 90 Program is an option to fill 90-days through certain retail pharmacies. The Express Scripts mail order pharmacy will continue to provide 90-day through mail.
- Physical Rehab Cost Sharing – The medical plan member cost share is being reduced to PCP level copay. Effective January 1, 2020 as required by House Bill 81.
- Alternative Benefits – The Copay for Alternative Medicine services (predominantly chiropractic services) are being reduced to the PCP level (deductible waived). Effective January 1, 2020.
• Autism Benefit – The specialty copay is being reduced to the PCP level and age restrictions are being removed. Effective July 1, 2019 as required by House Bill 322.
NMPSIA encourages members to use the video visits benefit under both BCBSNM and Presbyterian as an alternative to care rather than going to urgent care. The cost to the member is $0. Physicians can e-prescribe medications in order to treat members. This is a great benefit, especially for members living in rural communities with little or no after-hours care for non-emergent situations. If a member cannot be treated through a video visit, the member will be redirected to other health care options. In order to use this service, go to your medical plan’s website to complete the registration for this service. Once you are registered, you can quickly access this level of care when needed. If you have any questions or require assistance, please contact the Benefits Department at NMPSIA at 1.800.548.3724. (BCBSNM is offering video visits for behavioral health at the same $0 copayment, and Presbyterian is working toward implementing this option sometime soon.)
NMPSIA’s data warehousing services provided by Segal has assisted in rate projections and plan design to determine where NMPSIA needs to focus on enhancing member education to better assist members in efforts to manage their overall health status. Diabetes, asthma, cancer, coronary artery disease, inflammatory conditions, and hemophilia continue to be some of cost drivers on both the medical plans and the prescription drug plan.
NMPSIA’s Wellness Programs offered through the medical plans are working to improve member engagement. NMPSIA is asking for your support in considering the implementation of a wellness at work program to assist in improving the overall health of the NMPSIA membership. NMPSIA is a self-insured plan, so a healthy population will translate to affordable premiums and good benefits. These programs may also contribute to less absenteeism and improve presentism, as well as encourage members to develop a relationship with a primary care physician in order to ensure they become aware if they may be at risk of developing a chronic medical condition. The programs can be designed to fit the needs of your district/school as one-size does not fit all. If you would like more information, please contact Ms. Katherine Chavez, Benefits and Wellness Operations Manager, at Katherine.Chavez@state.nm.us at 1.800.548.3724, ext. 1011. Please allow NMPSIA to help you come up with a strategic plan for your district/school. Remember wellness is not just about nutrition and exercise, it is about our emotional, financial, occupational, environmental, spiritual, and social state of mind. Please visit www.nmpsia.com and review the presentations made during the July 2018 Regional Benefit Training sessions. The trainings were geared toward improving overall health.
The Risk Services Division of NMPSIA provides insurance for Property, Liability, School Board Legal Liability, Crime, Cyber Liability and Workers’ Compensation coverages. NMPSIA members consist of K-12, Charter Schools and Educational Entities (including several colleges and universities). Insurance is provided by a Memorandum of Coverage. NMPSIA maintains large self-insured retentions/deductibles, which means that NMPSIA pays losses on most cases that are filed on behalf of its members. NMPSIA purchases excess insurance from carriers that provide large limits of liability in case a claim exceeds retentions. NMPSIA contracts with various professionals that provide services for the following: brokerage, consulting, administration, actuarial, driver information retrieval, and claims management. These groups, along with staff, meet once a month reviewing coverages, claims, loss trends and loss prevention services to ensure NMPSIA provides the broadest coverage available and the best service possible.
Within the Risk Program, there are many areas of loss control issues that are addressed. NMPSIA’s efforts to focus on playgrounds, a leading cause of serious injury among children, has also led to an expansion of PSFA review. The hope is an increase in funding will ultimately reduce the risk and affect the stability of the pool.
NMPSIA, through its contract with Poms and Associates, has spent a vast amount of time focusing on school violence and sexual molestation trainings. NMPSIA’s main efforts are to provide consulting services that helps to ensure the safety of children and employees. NMPSIA and Poms and Associates drafted and distributed guidelines for arming school personnel for all members. These guidelines are to be posted on www.nmpsia.com under the Risk section.
NMPSIA is actively working with the Public Education Department and the School Ethical Conduct Task Force on House Memorial 57 to identify issues of concern regarding ethical misconduct and to develop a strategic plan to alleviate those concerns.
NMPSIA continues to collaborate with the Public Education Department and the Department of Public Safety on House Bill 129, School Security Personnel and Deadly Weapons, which was passed by the Legislature. This bill defines “School Security Personnel” and the required training for individuals approved to carry a weapon on school grounds. This legislation goes into effective on July 1, 2020. NMPSIA will be working with the New Mexico Public Education Department on the Rules outlining requirements for schools and to develop school security personnel and firearms training programs. The training programs will include working with students with special needs, cultural competency and prohibited profiling practices.
Another area of focus in the Risk Program has been the development of a Boundary Policy. It was discovered that school districts did not have an effective policy that spelled out all the do’s and don’ts and both legal and moral responsibilities of an educator, and their duty to report misbehavior. A policy was adopted by the NMPSIA Board and distributed for districts to adopt. This policy is available for viewing on www.nmpsia.com under the Risk section.
NMPSIA continues to fund and support CES with a Technical Assistance Program that assists districts with special education issues, such as IDEA and IEP’s, and has been very successful. NMPSIA is always looking to improve education and programs to avoid employment practice claims and to ensure the due process rights of employees along with ultimately providing a safe environment for our children to learn. All these initiatives involve great teamwork between staff and its consultants.
NMPSIA passed on an average 2.45% risk premium increase for the current fiscal year for the Risk Program. The financial losses resulting from sexual molestation cases continue to rise. This may warrant larger risk premium increases for FY21.
The NMPSIA Board endorsed the Sandy Hook Promise Program, an anonymous reporting program and system. NMPSIA is hopeful this new program will encourage individuals (including students) to report inappropriate behavior in order to prevent serious misconduct. Sandy Hook Promise is free of charge to all members and participation is strongly encouraged. Information can be found on www.nmpsia.com under the Risk section. If you wish to discuss the program in detail, please contact Ms. Julie Garcia with Poms and Associates at firstname.lastname@example.org at 505.797.1354. It is imperative that we all work together to try to change the culture in our schools to “say something!”
Further, contact Ms. Garcia for any risk-related training you wish to bring to your district/charter school. A summary of trainings can be found at www.nmpsia.com under the Risk section. There is no cost for these trainings!
NMPSIA’s FY2019 audit for the period ending June 30, 2019 was completed and submitted to the Office of the State Auditor. The audit is pending release by the Office of the State Auditor. Once released, the audit will be made available on www.nmpsia.com.
NMPSIA staff testified in front of the Legislative Finance Committee on October 31, 2019. The Authority’s FY21 appropriation request was presented to the Committee. There was no decision made at that time.
NMPSIA does not receive a direct appropriation from the State General Fund. The Authority’s appropriation request sets the expenditure authority in which claims, and other expenses, can be paid by the Authority. The employer contribution for premiums paid to NMPSIA are funded through the “Insurance” line item in Public School Support. For FY21, NMPSIA recommended that the Public Education Department request $17.4 million ($10.7 Million for Employee Benefits and $6.7 Million for Risk) in additional funding for increases in the employer contribution for insurance through NMPSIA. Albuquerque Public Schools generally receives about 1/3 (one-third) of any appropriations through the mechanics of the funding formula.
SFO© Certification & Study Group Testimonials
After watching the group of School Business Officials be presented with SFO certificates during last year’s NMASBO Winter Conference, I saw how impressive the group was, and determined that the SFO was now a goal of mine. I did some research on the Administrator of School Finance and Operations (SFO) certification through ASBO International’s website and immediately sought out Terry and Jessica to express my interest. Luckily for me, NMASBO put together a study group for the SFO made up of the close group of NMASBO members who also wanted the certification, and led by one of NM’s very own SFO certified SBO’s, Leslie Pearce. Our group met throughout the Fall Conference, where we reviewed sample questions, highlights from some of the available ASBO International SFO web videos, but more simply held discussions about our organizations and our experiences. On test day, I quickly discovered that any of the worry or doubt I had was wasted energy. All of the time with the study group and our dedication to high quality school business management in New Mexico had me prepared, and I was able to relate an experience from the study group to the correct answer for the majority of the questions. The SFO study group and Leslie prepared me for the exam, and the experience would have been much more daunting and stressful had I not participated in the study group. I encourage all of the SBO’s in New Mexico to take the exam and help continue to reinforce the exemplary quality of our School Business Officials in the state." - Sean Fry, SBO (Albuquerque Charter Academy)
I worried for nothing. The test is made up of information that is dealt with on a daily basis. The study group was relaxed with good conversation. If in contemplation, there is no reason to put it off." - Tanya Hutchins, SFO (Lovington Municipal Schools)