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Fritz usurps School Board authority in raising retiree insurance premiums

Photo: Asst. School Superintendent William Fritz

Assistant School Superintendent William Fritz appears to have usurped School Board authority by announcing a substantial hike in retiree health insurance premiums before the increase was approved by the board, and at least one board member is not happy about it.

Fritz oversees the human resources department, which includes benefits and risk management. His department sent a letter dated Nov. 9 to retirees 65 and older, with no sender-name or contact given, informing them of a 32 percent hike in rates to take effect Jan. 1.  

But it wasn’t until Nov. 22 that the Indian River County School Board met and approved the increase.

After seeing a copy of the letter sent to retirees ahead of the board’s vote, newly-elected board member Laura Zorc said, “This is unacceptable.”

Board members Shawn Frost said, “I'm not a big fan of staff jumping the gun on policy issues because that is the role of the Board. They are charged with implementation, board corporate sets policy.”

At the same time, Frost said his concern about Fritz’s actions was lessened, “because the simple economic fact is that if the rates do not increase in step with the costs, we will face an economic disaster. If the vote had not passed on the 22nd, we would have to have called a special meeting to figure out how we would deal with the issue.”

New board member Tiffany Justice and veteran Dale Simchick did not return requests for comment.

There are 175 65-and-older retirees on the district health insurance plan. They qualify for Medicare and the district plan is a supplement, which covers the deductible not covered by Medicare for hospital and medical costs.
The premium went from $432 to $570 a month for retiree-only coverage and from $810 to $1,069 a month for retiree-spouse and retiree-children coverage.