Joint meeting photo (2019)

Members of the Sun Prairie City Council and Sun Prairie School Board were joined by members of the Sun Prairie Area School District administrative team (including Superintendent Brad Saron, right), Mayor Paul Esser (back row, blocked slightly from view) and City Administrator Aaron Oppenheimer to take this photo capturing the first meeting in four years between the two governmental bodies.

Ashley Field and Sun Prairie Community Schools were among the topics discussed at a joint Sun Prairie School Board-Sun Prairie City Council meeting on Monday, Sept. 30 at Meadow View Elementary, 200 N. Grand Ave.

But the area receiving the greatest amount of discussion? A joint school district-city wellness clinic for employees and their families.

The clinic idea germinated from the district when it went to re-bid its health insurance contract. Although the district received a zero percent increase, Sun Prairie School Board President Steve Schroeder said he didn’t think that figure was sustainable.

As a result, the district began to come up with ideas to keep the increase manageable in the future.

One way to do that, and continue to value district employees, is a wellness clinic.

“You’ve all read the stories about what’s happening in the world of education,” Schroeder said, adding that Sun Prairie wants to become the district of choice, and the only way to do that is to offer amenities to attract top employees.

Al Jaeger and Sandy Cohen from SSM Health presented a PowerPoint that showed the district how it could save money, and the city could also save money through providing physicals, drug tests and even workers compensation exams at the clinic.

Jaeger said shifting to a care model — one that emphasizes wellness by employees instead of treating chronic health problems — could help both the district and the city reduce health insurance costs.

Jaeger said researchers estimate that 75% of all healthcare costs directly stem from preventable chronic health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. Seven to eight chronic diseases are also a major cause of lost productivity and disability.

The clinic would offer preventive care, acute/minor injury care, immunizations, lab services, writing prescriptions, lifestyle / health coaching, chronic condition management, wellness screening, referrals to specialists, system navigation assistance, pre-employment physicals, drug screening, audiograms and respirator medical exams.

The cost for the clinic would be split 80 percent for the SPASD and 20 percent for the city, based on the size of each employee group.

Initial costs to retrofit an unused portion of the Dean Clinic to provide for a separate, signed entrance for employees and their families would be $17,556. Monthly costs would be $28,233 for SPASD and $7,059 for the City of Sun Prairie.

The school district would remodel a portion of the existing Cardinal Heights Upper Middle School as part of the construction and remodeling of the school to convert it into a middle school. The clinic will be located in a portion of the building designated to be a district employee training facility, according to Schroeder.

But because the CHUMS remodeling will not be completed until 2023, the Dean location would be required because the SPASD envisions opening the new clinic next summer.

At CHUMS, $17,800 in start-up costs would be incurred, with monthly costs of $30,903 for the SPASD and $7,700 for the City of Sun Prairie.


Both Jaeger and Cohen listed these benefits in terms of savings to both the city and the district:

• Occupational Health Care Expenses (currently paid at retail fees) can be reallocated to fund the costs of the near/on-site clinic. A typical reduction of costs for services received in employer clinic is 70%.

• Worker’s Compensation Claims are reduced by sending medically appropriate injuries to the near/on-site clinic for treatment or triage – reducing the volume of reportable claims. Capture rates reported up to 25%.

• Acute care and preventive primary care services are from medical group clinics. Typical capture rate is 30%. This contributes to claims avoidance and higher utilization of care when it is convenient and at low or no cost for members.

• Premium rate caps/minimal increases in health care costs through 5 year contracting. A similar sized employer group has demonstrated a claims avoidance total of approximately $1.5M annually when a clinic utilization rate of 64% is achieved.

Although the school board is scheduled to discuss the clinic in October, alders were skeptical because of existing budget constraints. City Administrator Aaron Oppenheimer explained the proposed 2020 city budget includes the city portion of funding for the clinic beginning next summer.

Jaeger emphasized the clinic is not a gatekeeper model, but instead is an integrated delivery model, with referrals to both in-network and out-of-network doctors. But the clinic is not intended to replace primary care physicians, even though it will be staffed with a paramedic and a physician’s assistant as well as registered nurses to handle triage for patients.

Although city representatives said they would need to discuss it more, Schroeder said he believed the board would be moving ahead with the clinic. “We know that we have to do something,” Schroeder said, referring to the clinic as a way to keep health insurance costs down.

Community Schools

Both governmental bodies received a presentation from Sun Prairie Community Schools, which now operates at Prairie Phoenix Academy, Patrick Marsh Middle School, Westside Elementary and, coming soon, to C.H. Bird Elementary.

SPCS Director Sarah Smith said Sun Prairie Community Schools hosted 21 events with more than 4,000 participants, including a meal packing event where 4,000 meals were packed and sent to Haiti and a Juneteenth celebration with 237 people attending at Vandenburg Park.

Smith said the next priorities for Sun Prairie Community Schools is to extend the memorandum of understanding between the city, the school district and Sun Prairie Community Schools to continue to provide programs like Girls Inc. at Patrick Marsh or the internship program that helped turn one student into a leader.

Ashley Field

Representatives from Bray, the school district’s architect, reported they submitted the designs for Ashley Field to the City of Sun Prairie to be scheduled as part of the November Plan Commission agenda.

The district is aiming for demolition of the existing field to begin following the last football game in November, with construction continuing all winter and spring in time for completion and use next fall.

The field, which will be used as a competition field by both Sun Prairie East and Sun Prairie West high schools, will be striped for football, soccer and lacrosse, according to Sun Prairie School Board member Dave Hoekstra.

Watch the entire meeting online through KSUN’s on-demand video portal at

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.