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First gathering brings 140-plus to Portland to learn PACE’s ins, outs

Before digging too deeply into an all-day seminar on all that PACE is, more than 140 attendees got a quick lesson in what it is not.
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   More than 140 people attended the first PACE Day, including
  OSBA Executive Director, Betsy Miller-Jones.

“First of all, we are not an insurance company,” said Lisa Freiley, OSBA’s director of legal, labor and PACE services.
 
The occasion was the first PACE Day, held April 26 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Portland. Those in attendance included school board members, risk managers, business managers, superintendents, insurance representatives, OSBA staff and others.

The day started with an outline of the history and services of PACE, which stands for Property and Casualty Coverage for Education. Other speakers addressed setting up a standard response to dangerous situations, avoiding legal claims for retaliation, reporting and recognizing sexual abuse, and managing claims.

Freiley explained that PACE is a self-insured liability pool. “Everyone sitting in here is an owner in this program,” she said. “It’s a partnership.”

Frank Stratton, executive director of the Special Districts Association of Oregon, joined Freiley in outlining PACE’s history and what it offers. Stratton said that under Oregon law only public entities can form such insurance pools.

“A lot of you look at PACE and think it is insurance because it acts a lot like insurance,” Stratton said. “But the money doesn’t go off to New York.”

He also explained that PACE buys reinsurance to cover losses in excess of $250,000.

The two provided a breakdown of how each dollar contributed to PACE is spent. The biggest expense, at 41 percent, is claims, followed by the cost of reinsurance, commissions and broker services, program administration and other costs. Significant rises in employment and sexual abuse claims over the past year have contributed to an expected rate increase this coming year of between 15 and 25 percent (17 percent on average). 

Claims can cost from $60,000 up into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“If we can prevent just one claim,” Stratton said, “that’s a significant amount of money.”

After that outline of PACE, keynote speaker John-Michael Keyes took those in attendance on a moving description of how he and his wife lost their 16-year-old daughter, Emily, during a school hostage incident in Colorado. From that death was born the I Love U Guys Foundation, whose works including establishing a standard response protocol in the event of a school safety issue arising.

“Who here is in charge of school safety?” Keyes asked. When only one man stood up, Keyes urged the whole crowd on its feet, saying: “We’re going to take the oath. ‘I own school safety.’”

Other speakers included attorney Dan Lloyd, who described the rapid growth in employment retaliation claims; Det. Micah Smith of the Linn County Sheriff’s Department, who spoke about new technology, social media and sex crimes against minors; and Geoff Sinclair and Scott Neufeld of PACE, who described claims case scenarios, how to respond, and the need to consult with pre-loss attorneys before taking action against an employee.

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Frank Stratton, executive director of the Special Districts Association of Oregon. OSBA's Peggy Holstedt, director of policy services, chats during a break with keynote speaker John-Michael Keyes.