Covert owes $700,000 to MESSA

COVERT, Mich. - Covert Public Schools has accumulated about $700,000 in past due health insurance premium bills, which it will try to pay off in monthly installments of about $130,000 each, according to The (St. Joseph) Herald-Palladium.

The district owes the money to the Michigan Educational Special Services Association, a third-party insurance administrator that is affiliated with the Michigan Education Association, The Herald-Palladium reported.

MESSA has been honoring health claims to date, but an MEA employee said future services could be denied if the district does not pay the bill, The Herald-Palladium reported.

The district is dealing with a $2.3 million annual property tax revenue decline due in large part to a change in tax status at the nearby New Covert Generating power plant, according to The Herald-Palladium.

The district employs 53 teachers; they pay 11 percent of the premium costs and the district pays the rest, according to the report. Superintendent Stephanie Burrage said that she wasn't aware of the problem until November because bills were sent to the district by e-mail, rather than printed invoice, The Herald-Palladium reported.

MEA Uniserv director Rulesha Payne said the district has only made sporadic payments since early 2009 and that the district should have realized that payments were due, according to the report.

The (St. Joseph) Herald-Palladium, "Covert Schools $700,000 in arrears on insurance," Feb. 20, 2010

Michigan Education Digest, "District sues over tax ruling," Sept. 16, 2009