Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) Controlling Medical Costs

Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) Controlling Medical Costs


In a world where the healthcare system is changing on a daily basis due to sweeping federal changes under the Affordable Healthcare Act, constantly changing technology and an increasingly sick and aging population, most employers are faced with cutting benefits, eliminating benefits, or seeing astronomically high renewal rates.  Bucking this trend is the Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) which was a founding member of Valley Schools over a quarter century ago, which established a purchasing cooperative for school districts to pool their purchasing power to reduce costs.  Starting first with liability insurance, then workers’ compensation, PVUSD moved its healthcare and other employee benefits under the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) nearly ten years ago now, and it has paid dividends.



Under the trust, PVUSD is able to choose its providers, plans and benefits as an individual district as it always has, while in returning receiving more choices, lower rates and expert consulting from the staff of VSEBT, Aon/Hewitt and Hays Consulting at no additional costs.  This year, starting fiscal year July 1, 2014, PVUSD elected to break out their plan tiering into four tiers from the traditional two tiers which have been in place for several years.  In simpler terms, they went from just single and family, to four levels determining how many are covered under the plan.


This represented a premium savings for employees who have a spouse or child(ren) only on their plan and only a slight increase for those with more family members.  The district costs are expected to now be a 2.1% reduction from the prior 2013-14 plan year.

Not only are costs going down, but PVUSD was able to expand their preventive drug list for health savings account plan members which means more preventive drugs at a copay prior to meeting their deductible for those on the HDHP plan.  That will provide additional savings to those employees and encourage better health in the long run by making preventive and maintenance drugs more affordable.


PVUSD also continues to focus on efforts to encourage good consumerism and physician quality, and cost and efficiency.  They implemented the UHC Premium Provider Advantage Plan.  Doctors who are rated both for high quality, satisfaction and efficiency receive two stars in the UHC network directory.  If members choose a Premium Physician, they will have even lower co-pays. This allows the employee to remain in charge of their doctor choices while providing additional options for savings.

Congratulations to PVUSD for its ongoing cutting-edge vision for providing the best quality benefits to its staff and their families while utilizing innovative tools to reduce costs!



ASPAA Fall Conference a Success!

The Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association (ASPAA) held their annual conference in Prescott, Arizona, November 20-22, 2013.  School districts are one of the largest employers in any state and the personnel staff are the front lines in delivering high quality human resources services, including the provision of healthcare, dental and other benefits to their employees and their families.  With the massive changes in the healthcare system, now more than ever, the role of ASPAA in keeping its membership up-to-date on these changes is critical.


aspaa logo


Darlene Kracht of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT), Sheri Gilbert, VSEBT, Doug Layman, Gilsbar, Terri Fischer, Littleton Elementary School District and Carol Priborsky, Paradise Valley Unified School District

Darlene Kracht of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT), Sheri Gilbert, VSEBT, Doug Layman, Gilsbar, Terri Fischer, Littleton Elementary School District and Carol Priborsky, Paradise Valley Unified School District



Paradise Valley Unified School District Hosts QBM

The Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) hosted the Quarterly Benefits Meeting (QBM) of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT).  VSEBT is a non-profit organization created to provide group purchasing and professional trust management for school district staff and families.  VSEBT has over 30,000 members.  Each QBM trains member district human resources, finance and benefits staff on the latest changes in healthcare, benefits, legal requirements and updates on innovations.


At this QBM the speakers included:

Andrea Billings, Administrator of VSEBT – Presented an update on National Health Care Reform.  The program is undergoing massive changes on a regular basis.  Andrea Billings is an expert in this field and keeps members up to date on changes and how VSEBT is ensuring compliance.

Jamison Davis, Hays Company – Presented on benchmarking, rate renewal determinations and calculations, demographic and claims trending, and what to expect for future medical costs.

Kevin Van Skike, Total Dental Administrators (TDA) – Presented on exciting new programs and discounts offered by TDA to members of the VSEBT.

Molly Gagnon, ING – Presented on portability and convertion options through ING for life insurance.  These options allow members to take their coverage with them when they change employers or they leave their jobs or retire.

Ryan Comstock, AON/Hewitt – Presented on AON’s Compliance Dashboard, a tool that all VSEBT Members who have medical coverage with VSEBT have access too at no additional cost.  The dashboard and its reporting tool is designed to log all compliance and notice activity.   Maintaining compliance grows more complicated with thousands of new regulations being added each month.  Having all of those compliance issues managed through one dashboard is a tremendous benefits to employers.


VSEBT Briefs Members on Benefits at Quarterly Meeting

The Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) conducts quarterly benefit meetings where it briefs representatives from each of its member organizations on benefit changes.  The next meeting will be held later this month at the Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) offices.  While changes are occurring rapidly in healthcare and other benefit areas, most employers are lost in the fog of new regulations.  VSEBT ensures its members are always up-to-date on current regulatory changes and cost factors.


At the next meeting human resources and employee benefits professionals will gather to discuss medical rates and trends impacting renewal calculations.  This topic will be presented by Jamison Davis of the Hays Company.  Sheri Gilbert, the Director of Business Development and Retention at VSEBT will be giving an update on revised business practices within the benefits field.


Rebecca McGonigle, editor of Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter, will be reviewing the new PREP program offered by VSEBT which rewards employees that take steps to improve their health with lower insurance premiums.  Andrea Billings of Valley Schools and Lisa Rafferty of Aon/Hewitt will provide up to the minute detailed information on federal health care reform.  Finally, Kevin VanSkike will present on TDA discounts.

Andrea Billings

Andrea Billings

We applaud these quarterly updates to members so they can stay on the cutting edge of health and wellness, keep their premiums low, and maintain a focus on healthy and happy employees.




Paradise Valley School District Plans Celebration for Centennial

The Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) is approaching a landmark of 100 years!  As a result, PVUSD is preparing to celebrate a century of teaching students.

District supporters are now preparing for alumni to be returning back to their roots for a celebration of the district that opened in 1913.

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To mark the occasion, the district will be putting on four events: including 1) a golf tournament; 2)  an art festival at the Paradise Valley Mall;  3)  a 5k fitness run; and 4)  a big celebration for the centennial evening.

The centennial evening is planned for October 19, 2013.


PVUSD has a long and rich history of educating children, hosting an annual 5k run, and being a large part of the local community.  You can type PVUSD in the Search block to find more articles on the district, including the recent 5k run and health fairs co-supported by VSEBT.  Congratulations on 100 years PVUSD!

To help people share memories, photos and connect with each other, a Facebook page has been established. For additional information or to sign up for events, call (602)-449-2205 or visit

Paradise Valley Unified School District Holds Annual 5k Run

Paradise Valley Unified School District Holds Annual 5k Run

The Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) holds an annual 5k Run for fitness with support for planning and the project coming from the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) of which PVUSD is a founding member.  This year, over 1,000 were in attendance and over 800 walked or ran for the event.  This was the third annual event and has grown dramatically each year in success.  This year’s brochure:

5k-flyer-2013 (2)

PVUSD Superintendent Dr. James P. Lee awarded prizes to the winners of each category, as well as to the individual schools that brought the most people out to support community fitness.


The event is now held every Second Saturday in February of each year.  Be sure to get it on your calendar now, as the event may fill up quickly.

This year, the district introduced a friendly “team” competition between departments/schools. Each department/school had separate color t-shirts with their groups name. Trophies were provided for 1st through 3rd place for event participation, and a “traveling” grand prize trophy was awarded for the first year to group with overall participation.  The top three schools in getting out the runners were:

1st Place Copper Canyon

2nd Place Horizon High School

3rd Place Shadow Mountain High School.

Third place very close, with Shadow Mountain High School beating out the fourth place team by just one runner.

pvusd logo

More than Just Running

In addition to the 5k run and walk, several other fitness experts and staff were on hand to help.

1. District benefit vendors on hand to support the event and answer any benefit questions.

2. Website set up to assist teams with healthy ideas for training by VS:

3. Wellness Champions (who are district staff) volunteered for each site/department to assist the wellness committee with organizing and encouraging team participation.

4. PVUSD has had an active wellness committee comprised of school nurses, Benefits Supervisor, Carol Priborsky and Valley Schools Director of Business Development Sheri Gilbert for four years.

 List of Sponsors PVUSD 3rd Annual 5K

 1. Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD)

2. Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) – Event organization, support and administration

3. United HealthCare – Water Donation

4. BASIC (district’s FMLA, COBRA & FSA provider) monetary donation toward t-shirts

5. Ellie Brockhurst & Associates (short term disability provider) monetary donation toward t-shirts

6. VSP – donation towards snacks & water

7. Delta Dental – donation towards first aid supplies and snacks

8. SunLife Financial – donation towards supplies and snacks

logo vsmg

Paradise Valley Unified School District Saves nearly $650,000 per year in Employee Benefits Fixed Costs!

Paradise Valley Unified School District Saves nearly $650,000 per year in Employee Benefits Fixed Costs!

At a presentation on November 1, 2012 at the Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) made by the Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG), it was shown that PVUSD is saving nearly $650,000 per year in employee benefit fixed costs alone through its membership in a group purchasing trust.  By group purchasing, fixed costs are reduced dramatically.  PVUSD is also self-insured, which means it only pays for the actual cost of paid medical claims, it does not pay any carrier or organization any extra profits, add-ons, or “wiggle room” pricing on its claims.  This saves them even more money, as the medical claims are about 90% of the expenditures, while the fixed costs are only 10%.  Kudos to the administration and Governing Board of PVUSD for their outstanding decision to save dollars on benefits in order to keep precious resources for teachers, staff and dollars in the classroom!

Here is an attachment of the power point presentation:

PVUSD presentation 11-1-12 – FINAL

The PVUSD Governing Board Members:

Governing Board Members
Sue Skidmore Dr. Sue M. Skidmore, Governing Board president 
Sue Skidmore earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Mount Union College and a Master’s degree from Youngstown State University.  She also holds a doctorate in educational leadership from Arizona State University.  Dr. Skidmore has been a public school teacher, high school principal, and school district superintendent and has taught at the university level.  Additionally, she is the founder of a Web-based company that specializes in enhancing grammatical and writing skills and has co-authored three English reference books.  She has been actively involved in the district’s United Parent Council, serving two years as its co-president.  Dr. Skidmore is in her third term on the Governing Board and has served three years as Board president.  She has two daughters who are graduates of PV schools.  Her term expires in December 2012.

Julia Bacon Mrs. Julie BaconGoverning Board member 
Julie Bacon earned a bachelor’s degree from Shippensburg University (Shippensburg PA) and a master’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond VA) in social work.  She and her husband have a steadfast commitment to education in raising their two children, one who graduated from, and one currently attending, a Paradise Valley Unified School District school.  Mrs. Bacon served as president of the United Parent Council and has actively volunteered in the district for more than a decade in many different leadership capacities.  She is currently a member of the district’s Community Legislative Network.  As the daughter of two public school teachers and first generation college graduates, education is a top priority in her family. Her term will run through December

Nancy Case Mrs. Nancy Case, Governing Board member 
Nancy Case received a Bachelor of Science degree in Retailing from Brigham Young University in 1978. She and her husband, Art Case, are the parents of seven children, ages 6 to 26. All of their children have either graduated from or are currently attending Paradise Valley schools. Mrs. Case has enjoyed volunteering in her children’s schools. She has also tutored many students and taught reading classes in her home. She loves to teach. Her term will run through December 2012.

Anne Greenberg Mrs. Anne Greenberg, Governing Board member 
Anne Greenberg earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University.  She is co-owner and executive vice president of Health & Medical Multimedia, as well as the editor of two publications for the American College of Cardiology. The webmaster for the United Parent Council, Mrs. Greenberg is a member of the district’s Community Legislative Network and has served on numerous district and school committees. She also is a member of the state board of the Arizona Academic Decathlon Association and of the Legislative Committee and Arizona Relations Network for the Arizona School Boards Association, which honored Mrs. Greenberg with an All-Arizona School Board award in 2011. Mrs. Greenberg and her husband, Rick McGuire, have two sons, one who graduated from and one who currently attends Paradise Valley schools. Her term will run through December 2012.

Mark Lane Mr. Mark Lane, Governing Board member 
Mark Lane owns a photography business, and studied business administration and accounting at Phoenix College, University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University. He and his wife, Debbie, have a daughter who attends a Paradise Valley school and two daughters who graduated from NAU and ASU. Lane is a Shadow Mountain High School alumnus and has been an active volunteer in the district and community through school council, United Parent Council and Little League. His term will run through December 2014.

Governing Board Secretary
Terri Calascibetta
Superintendent’s Office
602-449-2292 Fax

 e-mail Governing Board



Strategic Healthcare Planning for Employers

You might ask what “strategic healthcare planning for employers” even means?  Next to salaries, benefits are often one of the highest costs to an employer.  An employer can simply toss the dice and see what the costs add up to, or they can think strategically about their healthcare costs, the same as if they were deciding whether or not to open or close a manufacturing facility, to adopt a product line, or to move their headquarters.  By strategically planning efforts to create a healthier, happier workforce with less stress and better diet, exercise and lifestyles, an employer can see huge returns over time.

If your health benefits cost $20 million per year, then saving just 1% per year due to strategic health planning can cut your costs over a ten year period by $19.4 million.  (This assumes you drop a 10% annual increase to a 9% annual increase average.)  Your costs at the end of ten years at ten percent will be $51.9 million per year at 10$ growth, but shaving just 1% off that can change your ten year budget to just $47.3 million.  The benefits literally accrue more as time goes on.

So how can you do this?  You can’t get your whole workforce to eat right, exercise and be healthy all at once.  It is also illegal to only hire healthy or younger workers.  The way to do it is baby steps.  Early detection of diabetes, prostate cancer and breast cancer drop your expected costs from $150,000 per patient to $10,000 per patient.  Just getting your workforce to go to their doctor once per year and get their screenings on time can save well over 1%.  Incentivize healthy choices like smoking cessation, healthy cooking classes, wellness programs, exercise breaks at work, ergonomic atmospheres, reducing stress, can all have dramatic savings impacts.

Only a few employers are really committed to wellness.  One such local employer is the Paradise Valley Unified School District.  Their employee Insurance Committee will be working with Aon/Hewitt and the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) to accomplish strategic healthcare planning for teachers and other employees of the district.  The VSEBT already offers ready made programs including WellStyles and PREP, which offer either awards or lower premiums in exchange for healthy choices.  These programs were designed and implemented by Sheri Gilbert of VSEBT specifically to address school district needs.

By focusing on individual employers, the strategic wellness plan can be tailored to that organization’s culture, structure, and specific health needs.  In the case of school districts, they have a higher number of women employees and a higher average age and tenure.  This means more emphasis is placed on stress, depression, migraine prevention, and breast cancer early detection.

Each employer should seriously examine its own healthcare costs to see how you can impact the bottom line by encouraging healthier, happier, and less costly employee benefits by offering rewards to your employees for good healthcare choices and regular examinations.