Opp BOE: Subs may see cuts

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A possible cutback in hours for substitute teachers in the Opp City School system had school board members looking ahead to more than just Christmas vacation at Tuesday’s regular meeting.

Linda Banks, chief financial officer for the school system, said changes being brought on in January by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, may force officials to scale back the hours per week, or days per year, substitute teachers can work, lest the system face having to provide health insurance on par with that of full-time employees.

“We will have to offer health insurance to at least 95 percent of full-time employees,” Banks said. “Our definition of full-time isn’t the same as the Affordable Care Act’s.”

Banks said the ACA defines full time employment as an employee that works an average of 30 hours per week during any given year.

“We do have a handful that get close to 30 hours per week,” Banks said. “The sad part is a lot of the substitute teachers that work that many hours, or close to it, work them because they are the best. A lot of them are retired teachers from this system that already have health insurance.”

Banks said none of that matters when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, which also will not take into account the months of summer vacation teachers receive when tallying average number of hours worked.

Banks said the upcoming changes leave the system with two choices that accomplish the same goal – cut hours per week, or cut days per year worked by substitute teachers.

“Right now, we sort of feel it’s better to limit the number of days a year,” she said. “It’s easier to track.”

Not making a cutback, Banks said, could result in “severe” penalties.

“The penalty is $2,000 per employee, which could cost us as much as $240,000,” she said.

Superintendent Michael Smithart called the problem “a moving target,” and said a decision on a course of action will not be made until more information is handed down by the state Board of Education in January.

“(The state school board) had planned on getting information to us in December, but they moved it back because they are still receiving regulations,” Banks said.

In other business, the school board:

• approved the offer of employment for Amy Bowers, English teacher/OMS and Todd Fleming, bus driver.

• approved the transfer of Frankie Muncher from half CNP worker to half CNP and half custodial worker.

• approved the contract services of Cynthia Boyd, a board-certified behavioral analyst. Smithart said Boyd’s services had been used in the past and were already part of the budget. He said he recommended the contract because Boyd had recently moved into the Opp area.

• approved an agreement with InCare wireless to provide and maintain a wireless infrastructure that will allow for uninterrupted wireless service at all points in all Opp City Schools.