HOLLAND, Mich. — Support staff employees in Holland Public Schools will switch to a high-deductible health care plan purchased from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan under the terms of a new, three-year contract, leaving behind the health plan offered through a union affiliate, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

The employees formerly were enrolled in a health plan administered by the Michigan Education Special Services Association, an affiliate of the Michigan Education Association, The Press reported. Teachers are the only district employees remaining in a MESSA plan, according to The Press.

"Everyone at the table was sensitive to the economic times currently impacting our community," Steve Grose, board of education president, said in a press release, The Press reported.

Support staff members agreed to just a 1 percent pay raise for the 2010-2011 school year, though part-time employees will receive a $300 stipend and full-time employees a $600 stipend for 2009-2010, and one or two additional vacation days in 2011-2012.

Superintendent Brian Davis has said that MESSA insurance rates have increased 52 percent over the past four years, while non-MESSA insurance rates for other employees have gone up 22 or 32 percent, The Press reported. Holland Education Association President Geoff Legg told The Press that MESSA rates increased more than usual this year, but have seen minimal increases previously, The Press reported.

The Grand Rapids Press, "School support staff in Holland agrees to dump MESSA for high deductible health insurance," July 15, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Districts Save With Health Savings Accounts," June 29, 2010