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School districts to receive insurance refund

Two school districts in Harlan County will be receiving checks as part of an insurance refund.

Both the Harlan Independent Board of Education and the Harlan County Board of Education are receiving checks as part of a refund Kentucky Employers’ Mutual Insurance (KEMI) is issuing to former Kentucky School Boards Insurance Trust (KSBIT) policyholders.

KEMI is a workers’ compensation insurance company in Lexington and is the largest provider of workers’ compensation insurance in Kentucky, as stated on KEMI’s website.

Through KEMI’s refund the Harlan County Board of Education is set to receive a refund in the amount of $28,327.61, and the Harlan Independent Board of Education is set to receive $26,284.60.

“I am pleased that KEMI is in the position to provide this refund to KSBIT, and I’m proud of the work by KEMI employees who made it possible,” Brandon Voelker, chairman of KEMI’s board of directors, said in a press release. “KEMI provided improved service and savings to school districts throughout Kentucky at a time when no other insurance company was willing to offer a competitive solution, and I believe KEMI’s success with KSBIT demonstrates why the company was created in the first place.”

KEMI President and CEO Jon Stewart also spoke about the refund.

“KEMI made a promise to sustain financial stability, maintain strong claims reserves and deliver both outstanding service and competitive pricing to our policyholders,” said Stewart. “I believe we’re fulfilling that promise, not only to Kentucky’s school districts, but also to all our policyholders.”

Charles Morton, superintendent of the Harlan Independent School District, described the refund process and what it meant for the schools.

“The refund will go back to the District General Fund, which is used to pay for teacher salaries and educational resources for students,” Morton said. “Since the original payments were taken from the General Fund, generally accepted accounting practices would dictate that it goes back to that fund.”

Harlan County School District Superintendent Brent Roark said to “keep in mind the money is only a partial refund on payments we have been making for years. It is only a portion of one year’s payment.”

“It’s not a large refund when you consider how much we paid,” Roark added.

Morton also mentioned his thoughts on the refund and its benefits, if any.

“We have known that a refund was possible but was unsure of the amount,” Morton said. “Since education is drastically underfunded, we are very excited to receive the refund, regardless of the size.”

“This refund represents less than 10 percent of the original settlement agreement for our district,” Morton added.

When asked if he thought there would be any backlash from the refund or company, Morton said, “I have no reason to think some form of backlash from the refund will occur. This issue has been on the table for more than five years and has been an ongoing part of the settlement process. I believe that most districts, KEMI, KSBIT and others involved have adjusted and adapted accordingly.”

In addition to the two school districts in Harlan, the Bell County Board of Education will also be receiving a check in the amount of $38,441.07.

According to a press release from KEMI, a total of $4.77 million is to be refunded back to the KSBIT Workers’ Compensation Fund.