NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

New Wellness Program for Teachers Will Cost $1.5 Million

July 14, 2014

Next school year, Iowa teachers in the Des Moines Public School district will receive free Fitbits -- electronic wristbands that track the wearer's calories burned and activity. The district plans to spend $375,000 on the free wristbands for all district employees participating in its Healthy U Wellness Program, reports the Daily Signal.

The program was instituted to incentivize employees to become more active, and the school district is using financial incentives to encourage participation:

  • Full-time employees can receive $200 for participating in the wellness program.
  • Simply enrolling and having a free biometric scan earns the teacher $100.
  • If the employee meets just six out 24 possible wellness goals (which can include going to the dentist, joining a bowling league or watching a webinar), he can earn an additional $100. If these goals are too difficult, employees can create their own wellness goals.
  • Part-time employees are also eligible for the program and the free Fitbit.

The Healthy U Wellness program will cost the school district $1.5 million in the next fiscal year, but none of the allotted funds will be spent to supervise participants. According to the Daily Signal, all fitness goals are to be self-reported, and there are no actual fitness benchmarks or objective success measures.

The school district insists that each dollar spent on the program will save $3.24, but it gives no explanation for how that figure was derived.

Source: Paul Brennan, "Teachers Get Outfitted With Fitbits at Taxpayer Expense," Daily Signal, June 29, 2014.


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