Northfield Public Schools is proud to announce it is the recipient of a Local Government Innovation Award (LGIA) from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Each year, local governments in Minnesota are reviewed by a panel of judges and awarded for their creativity and ingenuity to deliver services to their residents with greater impact and at lower cost. The award recognizes projects in up to five categories: cities, counties, schools, townships, and Native nations. Northfield Public Schools has been selected as a winner in the school category for its work in converting its traditional insurance programs to self-funded programs.

An awards ceremony and reception will be held on Thursday, December 13, at 5:00 p.m. at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Northfield Public Schools will be recognized at the ceremony and will be awarded $5,000 to go toward further serving the community.

Redirecting Resources

Witnessing rising insurance costs and the financial strain it was having on the District’s limited budget and the household budgets of employees, Northfield Public Schools assembled a Benefits Advisory Committee to explore ways to alleviate some of this financial strain. Rather than its monetary resources going to insurance companies, Northfield Public Schools aimed to reduce and redirect those dollars to enhancing students’ education and reducing premiums for employees.

Northfield Public Schools Director of Human Resources Molly Viesselman says, “Obtaining and sustaining affordable health care costs for our employees has been a long-term goal of the Benefits Advisory Committee. We are now seeing the end results of many years of work to achieve this goal.”

Northfield Public Schools Superintendent Matt Hillmann adds, “We are truly honored to receive this award. This is just one example of the many ways the District is working to be an excellent steward of taxpayer dollars. In addition to being conscientious of taxpayer dollars, creating health insurance equity among different employee groups in the District has allowed us to recruit and retain high-quality, dedicated staff members. It’s a win for the community, our students, and our employees.”

A Positive Impact

According to an independent study by Willis Towers Watson, it’s been determined that as a result of Northfield Public Schools’ efforts, its health care program is 8% more efficient than the average health care program. With its self-funded program, Northfield School District saves $657,000 per year on average. The savings is invaluable to the variety of programs the District offers to support students’ learning. Judicious management of this fund balance has resulted in a strong, competitive health insurance package that has not seen an increase in premium for employees since 2013-14 and was actually reduced an average of $100 per month per employee in 2018.