Jackson County Public Schools has announced the selection of Mark III as the new elective benefits provider for the district’s nearly 500 full-time employees.

Mark III was chosen because of cost savings, an A-plus rating for all their products and for outstanding customer service, Director of Human Resources Kevin Bailey said.

“It’s a great deal for our employees and for Jackson County taxpayers,” he said.

Based in Charlotte, Mark III has been serving local governments and school districts as an independent insurance broker for more than 40 years.

Bailey said the cost savings come primarily through the elimination of fees.

“The great thing is our employees will not have to pick up those costs,” he said. “Mark III is going to absorb the cost, so our employees are getting better rates and the school system is saving money as well.”

A high-quality benefits program is essential to the recruitment and retention of teachers and other personnel, Bailey said.

“We firmly believe in recruiting the best employees that we can find, but we also believe that we take care of those employees, and we want them to have access to all of the options to make their lives as good as possible,” he said.

Superintendent Kim Elliott said she shares Bailey’s priority of improving the quality of life for JCPS employees, and applauds the effort to reduce the total cost of the program.

“I am truly excited that this change will bring lower costs and better coverage for employees,” she said. “It is our moral obligation to provide the best cost effective options for our employees’ elective benefits. We value our employees and want to ensure they have the opportunity to choose plans that have been ‘market shopped’ and vetted.”

Open enrollment for the new benefits package is scheduled for spring. Coverage for employees who opt into the program will take effect on July 1.