Minooka Grade School Board adopts risk management plan
By Kris Stadalsky Correspondent December 4, 2012 8:44AM
Updated: January 12, 2013 6:05AM
Minooka Grade School District has an updated risk management plan, but the year it took to get it approved cost taxpayers money, Superintendent Al Gegenheimer said.
The last plan was created in 2002, so attorneys for the district recommended a new one, which was started in October 2011.
Delays in getting the plan approved resulted in using $400,000 that could have come out of the district’s tort fund had the plan been approved sooner, Gegenheimer said.
A risk management plan, in part, identifies district employees whose responsibilities include risk avoidance on school property or during district-sponsored events and activities.
“Part of their responsibility is to protect the school district from unnecessary lawsuits,” Gegenheimer said.
A portion of salaries from those employees, equal to time spent in risk avoidance, can be paid from the tort fund.
The district levied $1.8 million in the prior fiscal year for the tort fund, but was unable to use the money because the plan was tabled several times.
“We had a $2 million (budget) deficit last year. We could have saved at least $400,000 of it, but the plan wasn’t done,” Gegenheimer said. “I don’t want to go another year like this.”
Board member Doug Martin moved to table the plan again during last week’s board meeting, saying he wanted to take another look at certain positions and the time associated with risk avoidance.
Martin, an attorney himself, said he disagreed with attorneys for the district on the matter and wanted to discuss two related case laws with them. Martin brought files of the cases to the board meeting.
He referred to two school districts in Illinois that abused tort funds, paying 100 percent of salaries from it instead of a related portion. Both districts lost their cases and were assessed large fines.
“To take another month to look at this, we don’t lose anything,” Martin said.
The district conducted two lengthy studies, documenting the amount of time all employees devote to risk avoidance. Attorneys consider the district’s plan to be conservative, Gegenheimer said.
Martin’s motion to table the plan failed and the risk management plan passed in another vote.