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Natrona County School District

Students wander out of Natrona County High School after the first day of the 2018-19 school year in Casper. The Natrona County School District announced each of its employees will receive a bonus because of money that was saved because of insurance costs that did not increase as expected.

Each of the Natrona County School District’s 2,000-plus employees will receive a piece of $4 million the district saved in one-time money, the school board’s chairwoman announced at a meeting Monday afternoon.

District officials and board members had previously budgeted for a spike in insurance costs for this current fiscal year. The previous year, insurance premiums jumped more than 10 percent. But in October, the district learned that the anticipated spike wasn’t coming and that the money would be left over when the district’s fiscal year ends on June 30.

After the district’s business manager, Ryan Kelly, brought up the $4 million savings at a board budget committee hearing Monday afternoon, chairwoman Rita Walsh read a prepared statement.

“At this time, the trustees want to recognize all the dedication of all of our employees,” she said. “And we want to use this one-time savings from the no-increase in health insurance, and it should be distributed to all employees for the balance of this year.”

She said that full-time employees would all receive the same amount of money, while part-timers would be given a pro-rated amount.

Walsh said the money could begin being distributed to employees this month, through the end of June.

Walsh and others stressed that the money is a one-time savings, not a continuing savings that the district could rely on for years to come to fund recurring expenses like schools or staff. Nor is it a regular end-of-year bonus that employees should count on, they said.

Beyond that, details are scarce. It’s unclear how much money each full-time employee will get and whether the money will come on each paycheck or via some other means. Mike Jennings, the district’s executive director for human resources, said after the meeting that he needed to study the plan more before making a statement about it.

Walsh said more information would be given to the district’s employees over the next week.

District spokeswoman Tanya Southerland said she would have more information available later this week, as well.

It’s a piece of good budgetary news in Natrona County, which for years has been focused on pinching pennies and cutting costs to adjust to reductions handed down from the Legislature.

Follow education reporter Seth Klamann on Twitter @SethKlamann

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Education and Health Reporter

Seth Klamann joined the Star-Tribune in 2016 and covers education and health. A 2015 graduate of the University of Missouri and proud Kansas City native, Seth worked for newspapers in Milwaukee and Omaha before coming to Casper.

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