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In This Issue
PRIMA and School Reps
Risk Administration
Risk Priorities
Insurance Market Analysis
Risk Communication
Risk Assessment
WC Cost Savings
Sexual Abuse Prevention
Medicare Reporting
Events and Announcements
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Core Management Resources Group

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 School Risk Groups
Florida School Boards Insurance Trust
Minnesota School Boards Insurance Trust
New York Schools Insurance Reciprocal
Schools of Ohio Risk Sharing Authority
Pennsylvania School Boards Association Insurance Trust
 School Districts

City of Atlanta
City of Chicago
Clark County

City of Cleveland 

Dekalb County
Fairfax County

 Francis Howell
Fulton County
Rockdale County
San Francisco USD

Wake County 

Other districts that are direct or associate members now number more than 350 and the total number represented by school risk groups is nearly 1,000.

To find out how to join, click here!

School leaders who are members can search the directory and find districts with similar risk management interests

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June 2009                                                                       Issue 7

Risk management is... a vital business process.

School Risk Management Represented At

PRIMA Conference

Staff from school districts and risk groups, along with a handful of risk group trustees joined with representatives of other governmental agencies in Dallas, May 31-June 3 for the 30th Annual Conference of the Public Risk Management Association. The Conference offered 60 different educational sessions, featuring more than 100 speakers and moderators.   

A pre-registration list showed approximately 31 districts represented and 16 school controlled risk groups.  Nationwide there are about 500 school districts with enrollment greater than 15,000 and almost 100 risk groups.    

Despite being in the minority, school district representatives made important contributions and many played key roles as session presenters and moderators. Ron Hayes, risk manager for Calcasieu Parish Schools (LA) was installed as PRIMA's president for 2009-2010 and Dan Hurley, senior director, Risk Management and Safety, Norfolk Public Schools (VA), joined the board of directors.   

Mr. Hayes was also a co-presenter for a session on "Security and Emergency Management Grants for Schools: Finding Your Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow."  He moderated "Disaster 101: Been There Done That!" which featured his colleague Karl Bruchhaus, CFO for Calcasieu Parish Schools, as a co-presenter.  

Donna Abersman, deputy CEO/COO for Alliance of Schools for Cooperative Insurance Programs moderated the session titled, "Rounding Up Pool Members Drug-Free Workplace Programs."   

Jon Dahlander, director, News and Information, for Dallas ISD (TX), was a co-presenter for the session "Meet the Press: Build Media Relationships Before the Disaster Strikes." 

James Huckaby, risk manager for Mesquite ISD  (TX), was a co-presenter on the session on "Reporting Risk Management to Decision Makers."  Mr. Huckaby also moderated the session titled, "It's All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses and Eye" and "Insurance Market Cycles: Why Does it Have to be So Crazy?"   

Mary Sue Linville, a PRIMA board member, and director of Risk Management and Operations for the Washington Schools Risk Management Pool, facilitated the education professionals roundtable this year.   Ms. Linville  co-presented a session on "Developing a Successful Loss Control Incentive Program with Measurable Results." She also moderated a session on "Management of Sexual Abuse of Minors Claims" that featured her colleague, Deborah Callahan, director of Claims and Litigation.  

John Magoon, risk management officer for Maryland Association of Board of Education moderated the sessions titled, "Health Benefit Cost Containment: Controlling the Uncontrollable" and "Security and Emergency Management Grants for Schools." 

John Palm, safety officer for Mesquite ISD (TX), was the moderator for "Why Things Go Right - Why Things Go Wrong in Public Safety Operations."   

Katherine Peeling, risk management specialist for Anne Arundel County Public Schools (MD), was a co-presenter for " Eeny-Meeny-Miny-Moe: Catch a Standard by the Toe!" and the moderator for "ERM Boot Camp."    

Michele Roemer, Thomas Grossi and Richard Kaz, school business administrators representing three districts in NJ, were panelists along with William Ryan, deputy executive director of School Pool Excess Legal Liability Joint Insurance Fund for a session about risk group membership titled, "Keeping the Herd Headed in the Right Direction."   

Alan Smith, risk manager for Garland ISD (TX), was the speaker for "How to Embed Risk Management Ideas in Your Culture."  

Dawn Watkins, director, Integrated Disability Management for Los Angeles Unified School District was a co-presenter for the session titled, "Absence Management: Where Are  You?"
Careful Study Needed When Downsizing Risk Management

Shrinking risk management departments are another sign of the difficult economic conditions.   The cost saving squeeze on risk management programs is happening in school districts, governmental entities and in the corporate sector.     

In an interview with Business Insurance Magazine published on
June 1, Ron Hayes, risk manager for Calcasieu Parish Schools called attention to the challenge of job security for public risk managers and the possible merger of roles and elimination of risk management positions.    

Aon Risk Services recently issued a report based on its 2008 Global Risk Management Survey.  In the following statements,  the survey report stresses the value of careful analysis of risk management programs:  

"Perhaps the most difficult risk management issue we face amidst this turmoil is ensuring that organizations remain committed to established, effective risk management strategies.  Seeking short term gains may restrict or reduce the long term success of risk management programs.  Risk control efforts, for example, should not be ignored for the sake of immediate expense cutting as they are essential to long-term cost mitigation. A comprehensive and successful response to this global economic downturn requires the consistent application of excellence in all facets of risk management."

 Risk Priorities are Reflected in Educational Sessions 

Asking school business officials to name their highest risk management priorities can produce a wide range of responses. A scan of  educational sessions at recent state conferences of ASBO chapter affiliates revealed about 70 sessions with specific risk management purpose or content.  Analysis of theses educational sessions suggested that the following seven items were the most common concerns: 

Employment Law Issues
Compliance with 403 (b) regulations
Occupational Disability Management
Pandemic Flu Preparation
Bullying Prevention
School Violence Prevention
Fraud Prevention and Investigation
Some district business officials and school attorneys have stated that the biggest current challenge facing school districts are the requirements of the new amendment to the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Others have cited the new mandatory reporting requirements under Section 111 of the Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007 (MMSEA) as their chief concern. While it may not be clear which is the greater of the two challenges, it's certain that both of these federal regulations have raised the stakes and created new compliance risks for school districts.   

Automobile/pupil transportation received attention in a few of the business official education sessions. However, athletic risks and the ADA - Americans with Disability Act were not mentioned or featured in any of the sessions.    

A school risk manager responding to a request to name his top priorities suggested school districts need help "initiating an enterprise risk management process to evaluate some of the operational vulnerabilities of the district; developing a methodology to conduct the various assessments, risk analysis and mitigation efforts."  

With so many issues and uncertainty about loss exposures, a thorough risk assessment process is important.  Risk mapping techniques and risk management blueprints have been suggested, and some school districts are already using these tools.

 Insurance Market Changes on Hold - For Now

What has the insurance market been doing lately? How can our school district or risk group get the most from the current market and what is likely to happen in the near term?  These are questions that seem to keep coming up as speculation continues about the possibility of significant upward movement in property and casualty insurance rates.   Speaking to public risk managers on June 3 at the PRIMA Conference, Scott Wightman of Arthur J. Gallagher offered a detailed analysis of insurance market conditions.   His comments tracked closely with those of John Hayden of Willis HRH Pooling Practice, who was interviewed recently by Business Insurance.   Both Wightman and Hayden have considerable experience with public school insurance placements. The basic message seems to be:  no one is in a panic at this time, even though recent operating results have been deteriorating rapidly; conditions are still favorable for most school buyers, however, the situation will likely reverse in 2010, especially if catastrophe losses mount in 2009 as they did in 2008.     

Hayden made the point that insurance companies would like to have more cash but none seem to be willing to take the lead in seeking rate increases at this time. He also said he is not seeing a rush to self-insurance. 

Figures presented by Wightman showed that the only time in the past 25 years that the industry had overall negative net income was 2001.  The combined net earnings of insurers as a group averaged about $40 billion annually from 2002-2007.  However, the combined net income for the property and casualty insurance industry in the US was down in 2008 about $60 billion from the prior year, with just a slight margin of profitability.   

Wightman's analysis also included data showing the difference between what insurers initially reported and what actually developed.  From 1981-2006, the industry's actual results were worse than originally projected in 15 out of 26 years.  There were two periods, 1981-1985 and 1997-2002, when the results turned out to be better than projected.  The analysis seems to underscore the difficulty that insurers have estimating their ultimate costs.  School districts with self-insured workers' compensation programs may face similar challenges.  

Many experienced professionals  have studied and written about the factors that influence market cycles.  Brokers like Hayden and Wightman help school districts interpret the market conditions to achieve optimum coverage placement in an uncertain environment.

Risk Managers Advised  to "Teach What You Expect"
"You can get started by asking questions." This was the advice offered by Dr. Steven Dranoff in response to a question about the role of the risk manager in changing risky behavior of
middle-schoolers.   Dr. Dranoff delivered a presentation on prevention of student aggression during the PRIMA Conference in Dallas on June 1.    

While risk managers and business officers may seldom be consulted about strategies to reduce student aggression and violence, Dr. Dranoff doesn't believe it has to be that way.  He shared his experience working with schools all across the country and reminded the audience, "Educating yourself about the underlying principles will help you gain credibility with academic leaders and counselors.   You can bring about change by offering to help and teaching what you expect."   

Risk managers often serve as catalysts for inter-departmental dialogue and resource sharing.  Draoff believes that colleagues who feel the risk manager is sincere in trying to help will reciprocate and invite further discussion.  
Effective Pushback Encourages Risk Debate

In its June 1 back page opinion article titled, "Power of Pushback," BusinessWeek, offers a reminder of an important value that risk management brings to an organization. The writers state:  "Everyone knows ideas get better when they're energetically inspected, batted around by skeptics, and poked and probed from all angles.  Everyone has been in a meeting where a solution was improved not just by discussion, but also by dissension.  Everyone has seen a project exceed expectations because somewhere along the way a naysayer interjected:  "Hold on a minute. Is this the best we can do?"  Make heroes of the people who put forth unpopular views.   Their opposition to the status quo is often a form of passion and caring for the company.  Create an inclusive culture that encourages real debate."
Webinar Recording Available for Nurse First Call Service
CompassThe audio recording and power point slides can be downloaded for anyone who missed the May 13 webinar that discussed how schools could use triage nurses to intervene immediately at the time of injury and reduce workers' compensation costs.  This webinar was presented by Company Nurse, along with Martin Brady of Schools Insurance Authority.

The set up to hear this recording only takes about 3 minutes The actual webinar is about 55 minutes long. 

Click here for the web link.

For more information please contact the executive director or Dennis Chandler at
 Bus Driver Course Receives NAPT Recognition
The National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) issued an announcement May 26 that included the following statements: 

"As part of the NAPT Recommended Products Program, we're pleased to announce another great value for NAPT members.  The School Bus Safety Company Driver Training Course is our newest offering. To learn more about the product and offer details go to and click on the Recommended Products Logo. 

The NAPT Board may from time to time recommend a product or service/s to NAPT members when the NAPT Board believes the type of product or service is essential to personal growth and development, staff development, human resources management, or operational safety and efficiency;" 

The NAPT stated three other criteria for products or services to be part of their recommended product program.  These deal with supplier and pricing issues.   For more information, contact the executive director.  
New Sexual Abuse Prevention Training Course Available
A new online training course titled, "Preventing Sexual Abuse and Misconduct in Schools," is getting reviews across the country  and is available now for district access.   Content for the course was developed by Dr. Neil Trautman, PhD, founder and Executive Director of the National Institute of Ethics, Austin, TX. The two hour online course features a full audio voice-over, rich media, interactive learning events and embedded video vignettes to illustrate employee/student scenarios.  Schools will also be able to personalize the course with a message from the superintendent, cite specific school policies and recertify employees through an assessment that ensures and documents their understanding. For more information contact the executive director. 
New Timetable and Online Courses Available for Medicare Mandatory Claims Reporting
The registration period  have been extended to September 30, 2009 for all liability insurance, no-fault insurance and workers' compensation "responsible reporting entities." (RREs)  The latest timetable can be found at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)

Online training courses are available to assist school district business officials comply with MMSEA Section 111. CMS is offering these online courses at no charge. The courses are designed for  RRRes for purposes of mandatory secondary payer reporting.

CMS says, "If you are a Responsible Reporting Entity, this training is for you. Once you have registered, you will be provided with a curriculum allowing you to chose the classes you need. The existing curriculum is available as a download.  If your district is a RRE for liability insurance (including self-insurance), no-fault insurance, or workers' compensation, you may register for the NGHP CBT courses by sending an e-mail to Specify that you are requesting the NGHP curriculum and include your district name and the name, phone number and an e-mail address for the individual(s) you would like to register. Once the COBC has processed your district's request, an e-mail notification will be sent to each individual containing the URL for the curriculum. If you do not receive an e-mail notification within 2 business days of your request, you may contact the COBC's EDI Department at 646-458-6740."
Events and Announcements
Florida School Board Association Insurance Trust moved into its new Tallahassee offices in late May.    New York Schools Insurance Reciprocal held it annual meeting on May 24.

Representatives from twelve companies participated in the first conference call meetings of the Institute's Corporate Partner Council on May 17 and 18. The Institute board of directors accepted an in-kind contribution from Target Safety for technology services that will help accelerate plans for greater interactivity and member collaboration.  The Institute hosted a conference call on May 27 for several risk management representatives of school districts in North Carolina.  

A special 45 minute meeting was held on June 2 during the PRIMA Conference for school districts and risk group representatives.  Billed as "Lagniappe - A Little Something Extra for Schools," the meeting provided an opportunity for introductions and a brief forum on topics of concern.  Controlling the cost of workers' compensation turned out to be the focus of discussion.     Bickmore Risk Services provided planning assistance and arranged for the meeting room.
The Florida Education Risk Management Association will be holding its annual conference near Sarasota, June 16-18.   Ted Pafundi, risk manager for Pinellas County Schools serves as president of this organization.  

The program for the upcoming Conference for Risk Retention Pools, hosted by AON Global Risk Consulting includes two presenters from the school risk management community, Paula Tanquay and Dawn Watkins.   Ms. Tanguay, CEO for Alliance of Schools for Cooperative Insurance Programs will talk August 3 about "Developing a Marketing Strategy to Keep Your Pool on the Leader Board."  Ms. Watkins, Director, Integrated Disability Management, Los Angeles Unified School District, will present later that same day on "Establishing an Award Winning Return to Work Program."  

The Institute appreciates news reports and announcements.  The homepage is regularly updated with event announcements and news from across the county concerning risk management in the public school arena.

We hope you find the Institute's newly updated website useful.  Please visit regularly and let us know how we can support your efforts to advance risk management.  Your input and feedback is greatly desired and appreciated.
Lee Gaby, Executive Director 
Public School Risk Institute
NEW Phone  (706) 715-3381