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BOCES teaching teachers about health care

It's no secret that health-care costs make up a large portion of school budgets, and the problem can sometimes be that district officials do not have the time to look into what packages would be most cost effective.

Now, Capital Region BOCES is spearheading a program that would help advise school districts about the best health-care programs for them. The project is being led by South Colonie School Board Member Robert Domenici, who is acting as a part-time president of the project, BOCES Assistant Superintendent for Management Services Mark Jones, and Dana Piazza, who Domenici said plays the role of an insurance expert.

Essentially what this is, it's a not-for-profit initiative made by the BOCES Board of Education to help school districts manage their health care, Jones said. "The initiative is really to gain better management and control over those costs and, ultimately, reduce the costs of government."

Throughout the school year, districts are constantly trying to control costs, save money and modify the budget as time goes on. Jones said something as complex as the health-care system is hard for the district to invest a lot of time in researching even though the benefits packages continue to increase in cost. He said the purpose of this program is to help alleviate those costs.

Piazza, who is acting as the benefits administrator for the operation, said BOCES can act as a neutral party and discuss packages with various health-care vendors, as well as experts in the industry, to plan out what the best options are.

"When we come up with those types of ideas, we can share them across the continuum of districts that are having the same problem," she said. "It's sort of a no-brainer that if you have somebody looking at this [health care] and nothing else, you'll get to a solution, or at least an idea or concept that you can provide to people as a potential solution."

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