School board approves more aggressive OPEB investments

The Stillwater School Board has approved a more aggressive investment strategy for money from the Other Post-Employment Benefit (OPEB) accounts.

On Feb. 13, the board told Finance Director Kristen Hoheisel the district could invest $130,000 from the OPEB accounts into equities.

“Equities are greater risk but we will only be investing 10 percent of our current portfolio, which is $1.3 million at this time,” Hoheisel said.

Equities equate to stocks, according to Hoheisel, and the move aims to counteract increased costs, mainly due to health insurance costs, that are depleting the retirement benefits fund faster than expected.

The OPEB fund allows the board to have flexibility in its investment decisions, and up until now has been invested in safer options. For the past Hoheisel and district committees, as well as former finance director Ray Queener, have been discussing the best way to extend the life of the fund and it was determined that investing in more aggressive equities could be the answer.

When the fund began in 2009, $18 million was put into it. This past year the fund paid out $1.7 million, mainly for health insurance costs, according to Hoheisel and Director of Administrative Services Cathy Moen. The fund was originally expected to cover retirement benefit costs for 20-40 years, but costs have been higher than expected.

Hoheisel said this change will not have any effect on retired employees of the school district.

Contact Avery Cropp at avery.cropp@ecm-inc.com

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