NEENAH — The Neenah Joint School District reduced its expenditures by $600,000 for the 2011-12 school year by offering its employees a voluntary health insurance buyout.

The savings effectively eliminated a $500,000 structural deficit in the school budget.

“At this time it looks like we will have a balanced budget and even a small surplus,” said Paul Hauffe, director of business services.

The Board of Education adjusted the 2011-12 budget Tuesday to reflect the change.

In July, the district offered a $2,000 payment to employees and retirees who have access to other health insurance if they opted out of the district’s health and dental insurance. A family plan costs nearly $19,000, so the district could save as much as $17,000 for each employee who took the offer.

Hauffe said 46 employees and retirees relinquished Neenah’s insurance for the cash, yielding the $600,000 savings.

The savings was prorated according to when an employee opted out of the insurance. The district had enrollment windows at the beginning of the school year and again in December.

The number of employees opting for the cash surprised board members.

“When I read 46, I was shocked that it was that many,” board president Scott Thompson said. “I expected a handful.”

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