BRIDGMAN, Mich. - Teachers in the Bridgman Public Schools district agreed to pay higher deductibles and a larger share of the premium in order to retain the Michigan Education Special Services Association as their insurance administrator, according to a report in the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium.

The 76 members of the Bridgman Education Association ratified the three-year tentative agreement in voting Friday, the Herald-Palladium reported; the board was to vote Monday. The contract provides a 1 percent wage increase in 2009-2010 and 1.75 percent in 2010-2011.

Salary and health care benefits were the key issues during negotiations, which began last fall, according to the Herald-Palladium.

Superintendent Kevin Ivers said earlier this month that the district could save $243,000 by shifting to a different company’s health insurance plan, the article said. The union rejected that offer and countered with one that would save $170,000, the Herald-Palladium reported.

MESSA, a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association, outsources insurance underwriting and re-sells Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance plans to Michigan schools.

The St. Joseph Herald-Palladium, “Teachers ratify new contract,” April 25, 2009

Michigan Education Report, “Health insurance: Reformed, but not resolved,” Sept. 16, 2008