Waukesha School District Considering Wellness Plan
Plan would increase employee health and reduce health care costs
Following the lead of corporate employers across the nation, the Waukesha School District may have a comprehensive wellness plan for employees next year.
Proposed by Jack Bothwell, assistant superintendent for human resources/labor relations, the program, Strive to Thrive, would offer the district the opportunity to increase employee health and lower health insurance costs.
Waukesha School Board members heard the some of the rationale behind the program at Wednesday's board meeting and could take action about the proposed program at its June meeting.
One of the goals of Strive to Thrive would be to reduce lifestyle-related group healthcare claims, Bothwell said, acknowledging that it may take a few years before the district receives an appreciable return on investment.
Also, by increasing their health, district employees and teachers would be models for both students and the community, he said.
Components of the program – based on needs surveys done this year – would include site-based wellness promoters, someone at each school who would be paid a stipend to promote the program; physical activities; a weight loss program; a general wellness program including stress management; and wellness coaching.
“I’m sure that it’s no surprise to you that our employees, like the rest of Americana, need to lose some weight," Bothwell told the board. "They [also] need to find ways to reduce their stress and they need to be more physically active."
If the program is approved, the district would be partnering with the YMCA, which would handle the administrative details and class scheduling.
The estimated cost, as currently, proposed is $98,500, with the bulk of the money, $48,000, going for the biometric assessments and mini-coaching; $12,500 for the site-based wellness promoters and $10,000 for the weight lost program. Other costs include $8,000 for general wellness programs and $5,000 for wellness coaching.
Members of the school board said they were unsure about the cost of the program and indicated they would like to see more information about the specific costs associated with it. The board will review the proposal at its next meeting.
The small steps the district took this year in trying some of the activities has already shown progress, according to Bothwell, with fitness and exercise classes being offered at schools in the district: for example, spinning at North High School, Jazzercise and Zumba at White Rock Elementary and yoga at Horning Middle School.
Another activity associated with the fledgling wellness program was the district’s inaugural 5k walk/run and health fair last month, held in cooperation with the Waukesha Education Foundation.
The event had nearly 500 participants, 20 vendors at the health fair, about 200 families ordered bike helmets, and more than 100 employees and student volunteer helpers, Bothwell said.