See how the Cumberland school district included Surest in their strategic plans, resulting in lower costs and better benefits.

Customer case study

Client: Cumberland School District | Industry: Education | Employees: 125

“Education is a noble profession,” says Dr. Barry Rose, superintendent of Cumberland School District in northwestern Wisconsin.

“Regardless of your role, from educators to support staff, we all have important jobs,” Dr. Rose continued. “We have a chance every day to make a positive impact on the life of a child. If they’re dealing with mental health, if they need access to breakfast, we have to address that. In Cumberland, we take that very seriously.”

The Cumberland School District is home to three public schools, an environmental charter school and a virtual charter school, catering to the needs of around one thousand students.

When it comes to financing the district, every dollar counts. Dr. Rose wants to compensate his staff well through pay and attractive benefits, but with a limited budget, it can be challenging—especially when the second-highest budget item is health insurance.

Offering a health plan is a must to Dr. Rose. But rising health care costs really pinch the funds available for compensation, and an increasing percent of teacher paychecks were going toward health insurance. It’s a frustrating situation.

A key component to gaining staff buy-in was the transparency Surest offered.

The problem statement

School districts struggle to balance rising health costs and limited budgets.

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Client’s goal

Find a health insurance solution that fits budget and employee expectations.

Surest joins

Surest partners with the district in 2018.

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Employees sign up

In a strategic move, the district shifted its entire health plan benefit to Surest.

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“Surest gives us an opportunity to make plans that can better our students and our community. And that holds tremendous merit.”

Dr. Rose, Superintendent

— Cumberland School District


As Mr. Hopkins and other staff members got more familiar, the more they settled into the new offering.

“I’ve had numerous staff members come to me and say, you know, ‘I can’t believe how easy this is to use, I can’t believe that some of my prescriptions were actually cheaper,’” said Mr. Hopkins. “It feels good to make educated decisions based on how much something will cost or the procedure’s location.”

The district’s budget also got the financial break it needed.

“We saved $700,000,” said Dr. Rose, “taking our medical benefits cost from a projected $2 million to $1.3 million from 2018 to 2019. Those savings gave the district additional flexibility to deal with deferred maintenance projects and staff salaries in a very tight labor market.”

Building sustainable benefits for the future

After year one with Surest, Dr. Rose is relieved to not go through the same routine of bidding out again.

“A yearly renewal is a very pleasant change of pace,” said Dr. Rose. “And one of the many nice things about it is that we have a seat at the table. We can discuss our plan with Surest, and we’re an integral role in that conversation.”

The money saved by the district will continue to go back into the schools. Dr. Rose commented that “this successful partnership with Surest correlates nicely with our strategic plan in attracting and retaining highly qualified staff while maintaining quality and efficient facilities.”

“Surest gives us an opportunity to make plans that can better our students and our community. And that holds tremendous merit,” said Dr. Rose.

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