HOLLAND, Mich. — Facing a 27 percent rate hike for teacher health insurance, the Holland Board of Education has asked state Attorney General Mike Cox to issue a ruling on whether it has to honor a previous employee contract while a new one is being negotiated, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

It also intends to ask the Michigan Insurance Commission if there is a way to challenge the increase, according to The Press.

Under the terms of the current contract, the district buys Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan insurance for its teachers through the Michigan Education Special Services Association, a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association.

State law requires existing employee contract provisions to remain in place until a new contract is ratified, The Press reported.

That means the district would have to continue providing MESSA insurance and pay any premium increase until a new contract says otherwise. The board contends that employees will have little incentive to negotiate if the new contract is likely to include cuts, The Press reported. The current contract expires in 2011, The Press reported.

"Maybe there's nothing we can do about it (the rate hike)," Superintendent Brian Davis told The Press.  "But I think what (board Treasurer) Jack (Gisinger) is saying is that at least we can ask the question."

The Grand Rapids Press, "Holland school board to seek attorney general opinion," Aug. 23, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Holland Teacher Contract Summary," Aug. 4, 2010