Mar 282017

By Claire Byun

Morris Jeff Community School will remain under the Recovery School District – at least for now – due to sky-high insurance costs.

The school’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to stay under RSD control rather than return to the Orleans Parish School Board early at this regular meeting Monday. All RSD schools must fold into OPSB oversight next year, but the district is offering up a chance to return early.

Morris Jeff, which serves students from kindergarten to eighth grade, voted to stick with the RSD due to excessively high property insurance rates under OPSB. Patricia Perkins, principal, said a similarly-sized school under OPSB pays three times the price for property insurance.

“Because RSD policy falls under the state’s Office of Risk Management, they can probably negotiate a better rate,” Perkins said.

Morris Jeff currently pays about $15,000 a quarter for property insurance, according to Jared Frank, director of finance. An OPSB school with the same number of students pays about $45,000 a quarter, he said.

OPSB officials are working to reduce the rates for all schools, Perkins said, especially since all schools have to fold back into the district next year. Morris Jeff’s board have discussed returning to OPSB before, but Jennifer Weishaupt, board secretary, said she did not remember ever talking about insurance rates.

The rates may not have been as transparent as they are now, Weishaupt said. Regardless, Morris Jeff board members agreed that sticking with RSD is the best plan of action – at least for now. If the school district doesn’t find a way to reduce property insurance fees, Morris Jeff won’t be the only school to suffer, board member Lisa Amoss said.

“It’s going to be a big hit if they don’t [get the rates down],” Amoss said. “Not just for us, but for everybody.”

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