A new report from the New Jersey School Boards Association says local school districts are increasingly containing health benefit costs for employees.

Association spokeswoman Janet Bamford says the latest data, updated on April 12, shows 48% of districts reached contract agreements that included health benefit savings.

 

That's more than double the number of districts that obtained health benefits savings in the 2012-13 school year.

 

"What we have found is that the most common change is that the districts and employees have agreed to switch to the New Jersey Direct 15 plan rather than New Jersey Direct 10 plan," she said, meaning higher doctor or medical co-pays and a lower premium.

She also says some benefits savings have been realized in teacher and employee contracts by incentivizing employees to remove a spouse from their coverage if the spouse can opt to take up health care coverage with their own employer.

Bamford says there's a lot at stake in trying to contain benefits costs. Districts are not allowed to increase taxes by more than 2% each year without getting approval from voters.

"So it is it's imperative that they try to find savings wherever they can," she said.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5