By Michelle Bates
The Bienville Parish School Board finally has their property insurance woes squared away following three months without insurance.
During a special meeting on Nov. 9, board members voted to add $25 million in additional property insurance with a premium of roughly $446,000, bringing their total premiums to $1.7 million. Last coverage period, they paid approximately $300,000 in premiums for $100 million in coverage.
Business Manager Jarvis Osborne explained the board already has $30 million in coverage, in which they now pay $1.36 million in premiums, for all school board properties but the $25 million is in addition to that, totaling $55 million in coverage per occurrence.
In other words, according Christopher “Colton” Guin, District 6, if a storm damaged the Ringgold School Complex again, then that claim would cover up to $55 million for that occurrence while still covering a previous claim for the same property.
“We would only be $1 million over budget instead of $2 million,” he said.
A severe storm passed through the area a few months ago and critically damaged the roof of the Ringgold school complex, but the claim has been completed. The school is functioning with a temporary fix at this time until the permanent roof can be installed.
In the October meeting, Guin was concerned with this work getting completed while the board was in between insurance companies.
“Say another storm comes through this spring. We do not have a permanent fix. What if something else happens?” asked Guin. “That new insurance would possibly not cover that claim. We could get caught in between the two insurance companies because the permanent fix is not there.”
According to Superintendent of Schools William Wysinger, the timeline has been established to have the work complete. The only thing hindering the work is that the board would have to shut down the school while repairs are underway. The plan is to begin installing the permanent roof as soon as Ringgold lets out for the summer break and having it completed in time for the 2024-2025 session.
“We are just praying nothing happens until then,” said Wysinger.
The issue of the insurance lapsing was mentioned again in a special-called meeting on October 23.
A Bienville Parish resident and teacher brought up the Declaration of Public Emergency that took place for Ringgold High School in May following the storm in April. “The complex was very damaged and needed major repairs. My question to the public is, ‘Were we aware that we possibly were not insured?’ Thank God we have not had another catastrophe,” she said.
The school board was without insurance for July, August and September of this year, having expired at the end of June. In October’s board meeting, the board voted to accept the proposal for $1.36 million with a breakdown as follows: Westchester $262,649.25, StarStone $315,074.25 RSUI $330,801.75, Arch $184,011.75, Kinsale $69,043.74, Sompo/Endurance American $105,374.25, Ironshore $52,949.25, and RIV Partners/Gt. Lakes $40,716.40.
The coverage is from Oct. 6, 2023 through June 30, 2024.
The motion was made by District 2 Board Member Oswald Townsend and seconded by District 7 Board Member Donald Calloway in October. In the special meeting in November, Guin made the motion to accept the additional premium of roughly $446,000 from Lloyd’s of London, seconded by District 3 Board Member Darren Iverson seconded.
The Bienville Parish Journal contributed to this story.
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