The new year is a time to focus on the future. For the TASB Risk Management Fund (Fund), it is also a time to honor the past. The Fund is 45 years strong as of January 4, 2019, and there are 45 TASB members that have been with us since the beginning. All Fund members work hard each day to provide a better tomorrow for Texas students, and the Fund is here to support them with risk solutions.
“Successfully preparing our learners for a dynamic future is one definition of excellence in our schools,” said Sid Grant, associate superintendent at Coppell ISD (a 45-year Fund member district). “Through excellent service, coverages that meet the changing needs of school districts, and continued education, the Fund allows our educators to do their jobs of educating children without the worry of potential property catastrophes, vehicle damage, equipment breakdown, claims, or employee injuries.”
Under the leadership and support of the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), school districts came together to form the TASB Workers’ Compensation Self-Insurance Fund (WCSIF) in 1974 to meet the new legal requirement that school districts provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. Additional programs were created later for employee benefits, unemployment compensation, and property casualty coverages to meet members’ growing needs. In 1997, these programs merged to become the Fund, which has evolved to offer five coverage lines and a wide range of risk management services. Since the Fund is administered by TASB, experts in human resources, business services, and school board operations are always close by.
Solutions for success
For 45 years, the Fund has been adapting to member needs and finding solutions to support them. Texas public schools are facing new challenges each day, and staff are here to help. TASB Risk Management Services staff offer knowledge, training, and resources in areas such as risk prevention, legal liability, cyber security, emergency management, and more.
“We are very pleased with the support that TASB contributes, as we serve our students by providing safe and reliable transportation,” said Mike Rios, assistant director of transportation at Austin ISD (a 45-year Fund member district).
The Fund offers five lines of coverage: Auto, Liability, Property, Workers’ Compensation, and Unemployment Compensation. Each program has its unique benefits for members, including training, expertise, and additional resources. Many of the member benefits, including Privacy & Information Security coverage for Liability and Property members, are included at no additional cost.
“The Risk Management Fund helps ensure that ALL of the district’s assets (including personnel) are well protected. To me, the blanket property coverage is crucially important, and is not something many other carriers offer,” Grant said.
While the Fund is very different from when it was formed in 1974, educational excellence has always been at the core of the mission. The Excellence Award program recognizes members for solutions and ideas that make a difference. Members are given a plaque and monetary award to apply to their risk management programs each year. In 2018, 10 members were awarded for programs ranging from wellness programs to campus security improvements.
Members who have recently implemented an idea to protect students, staff, property, vehicles, or other resources are encouraged to apply for this year’s awards.
Rios said Austin ISD was recognized for their special education evacuation plan in 2014, which started with fire blankets and has evolved to include annual training and a full evacuation plan. The district continues to implement this plan and training. According to Rios, the main components to educational excellence in the world of transportation are safety, efficiency, and customer service.
“The excellence award was the seal of approval from TASB for increasing safety,” he said.
Coppell ISD has also been an Excellence Award recipient, awarded in 2013 for providing each campus with hand held radios that were equipped with batter backups for emergency communications.
“We have had several opportunities to use this system during inclement weather events,” Grant said.
The member relationship
Of the more than 1,000 members, 45 have been with the Fund since the beginning. Services are geared to help prevent incidents such as claims and accidents from happening; however, when something bad does happen at a member organization, TASB staff truly care and do everything they can to help members recover.
One of many examples is in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, when staff from TASB Risk Management Services and other divisions worked to help member organizations impacted by the storm.
“While my constant communication with them via the phone was great, actually going, seeing, hugging them, and spending a few hours with them through all of this is more than any phone call could do. It builds trust, which is key in my relationship with our members,” TASB Risk Management Services Property Claims Adjuster Kim Shelly said.
Grant said he remembers a difficult time that the Fund helped Coppell ISD, when the district experienced severe flooding.
“Several years ago, we had a pipe burst at our large high school, thereby, flooding over 100,000 square feet of the building. Once discovered by Coppell ISD staff, the Fund had an adjuster on site within hours to help with the clean-up,” he said. “The moment I called in the claim, the adjuster authorized us to immediately contract with a restoration company to start the process. The payment and reimbursement for the damage was very quick and seamless as well. Again, I believe it is the Fund’s true understanding and appreciation of how school districts operate that enables them to be so effective and responsive.”
The members are what truly makes the Fund 45 years strong and the Fund values the relationship with them.
As the Fund has evolved over the years, one element that has stayed constant is responsiveness to member needs, and members have consistently ranked it as a top reason for staying with the Fund in the annual member survey.
“The Risk Management Fund truly understands the needs and operations of school districts, unlike many insurance companies that insure all types of businesses. When we have questions or concerns, the Fund is always quick to answer and respond. When we have had claims, the Risk Management Fund has been immediate in their response time to come to our assistance,” Grant said.
Foundation for the future
Just as technology has evolved over the past 45 years, it is sure to continuously change each year and play a major role in the Fund offerings and coverages. The Fund has built up a strong foundation with its members to support educational excellence. By staying on top of emerging risks and member needs, the Fund is positioned for another 45-plus years of member success in the future.
“I sincerely appreciate the partnership the Fund has had with Coppell ISD over the years. Everyone I’ve worked with at the Fund is incredibly knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful. I hope the district continues this partnership for another 45+ years,” Grant said.