Manchester, New Hampshire — On Wednesday, the Manchester Schools Council (BOSC) policy committee recommended scrapping health insurance benefits for BOSC members at the start of the next term in 2024, and asked mayors and councillors to increase BOSC members’ allowances from $2,000 to $4,000 a year.
Need to be discussed after full BOSC send question back to committee Confusion as to whether BOSC members are employees for tax purposes and any related benefits that employees of the Manchester School District may be entitled to. Additionally, these benefits are seen as necessary to attract community members from all walks of life to run for BOSC.
In turn, throughout BOSC discussions appeared after worry Some BOSC members say health insurance benefits are more expensive than plans they can get on their own and also disqualify members from certain other plans that members can get on their own.
Manchester School District legal counsel Kathryn Cox-Pelletier said the issue of whether BOSC members were actually employees should be viewed separately from health insurance given the complexity of the subject. Under Manchester’s city charter, school district employees are not eligible to become BOSC members, but Cox-Pelletier said the IRS treats school board members as employees for tax purposes. However, she also noted that the National Labor Relations Board does not classify school board members as employees when it comes to collective bargaining rights.
Cox-Pelletier made it clear that BOSC voting benefits for existing BOSC members would constitute a conflict of interest under the city’s bylaws. However, Ward 11 BOSC member Dr Nicole Leapley has said in the past that the district scheme has cost her family thousands of dollars and made her ineligible for the preferred ACA plan, asking if this remains a conflict of interest, if the BOSC member Vote to take benefits from yourself and return the money from those benefits to taxpayers. Cox-Pelletier said that could still come from her reading of the bylaws, at least for any members currently using the area’s insurance.
Three of the four BOSC members currently enrolled in health insurance in the region serve on the BOSC Policy Committee, with Leapley joining Ward 8 BOSC member Peter Perich and Ward 4 BOSC member and Policy Committee Chair Leslie Want. Perich also shared a similar story with Leapley, only that regional insurance made him ineligible for health insurance. While Wan said she liked the coverage she got from the district, she felt it was appropriate to remove it because the ACA option was not available when benefits were first offered to BOSC members.
The BOSC Policy Committee is made up of five members, which means that Leapley, Perich, and Want’s recusal would remove the committee’s quorum, preventing a recommendation vote for the full BOSC.
While any BOSC member could submit an issue to the full BOSC vote without committee advice, the idea of immediately removing the benefits of BOSC members was eventually dropped.
Committee members, led by At-Large BOSC member and BOSC Vice President Jim O’Connell, believe that future BOSC members should receive an annual stipend of $4,000 instead of health insurance benefits, which is the amount the board currently receives from mayors and city councillors .
O’Connell and other members of the committee said it was a matter of fairness between BOSC and Aldermen and would also help attract a more diverse board while avoiding the pitfalls that come with offering health insurance benefits.
Attempts to file a motion also called for a meeting of the Mayor’s Council and the Joint Committee on Councilor Education, a council of councillors that included councillors and BOSC members, and were ultimately abandoned. The idea was largely opposed by O’Connell, who thought it was unnecessary, and its purpose could be achieved by the BOSC’s statement to the Aldermen on the subject discussed.