A substitute teacher is not necessarily someone who most people think of as a full-time employee but school districts are grappling with the reality that the federal government considers anyone who works an average of 30 week hours as one. As a full-time employee, they are eligible for employer provided health insurance coverage in a company of 50 full-time employees or more, as mandated through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.
In response, many public schools are slashing their allowable number of substitute teacher hours per month to avoid the heftier healthcare fees or fines, and it may also wind up impacting the students in the classroom.
The ACA provision states that any person who works 30 hours per week or 120 days per calendar year must receive benefits. Under new rules, substitute teachers can only work 3 days during the week and less than 130 hours per month, according to KSWO-TV news in Amarillo.
They reported that the Canyon Independent School District (ISD) has been dealt a sobering dose of Obamacare’s spiraling costs and as a result, they will begin to cut the hours that substitute teachers have been allowed to work per month. The district is adjusting this to keep from having to provide benefits to them.
Canyon ISD officials indicated that they wanted to be proactive rather than reactive to the lot being dealt. KSWO-TV reported that they commented, “Many districts and attorneys are still working their way through the legislation in an effort to fully understand the act’s implementation.”
Last summer, the nearby Amarillo ISD found that its self-funded employee health insurance costs had skyrocketed by $1 million under Obamacare. The district budgeted for this, increasing their contributions, the Amarillo Globe News reported.
Amarillo ISD noted it had several hundred substitute teachers, some who exceeded the weekly 30-hour threshold regularly. The Amarillo Globe News also reported on the sharp increase in insurance deductibles and out-of -pocket expenses under Obamacare that was coming in 2015. Even so, last July, the school district indicated they had no intention to scale back to under the 30-hour per week mark.
Canyon ISD, in 2014, increased its monthly $25 contribution per employee to $275 a spokeswoman told the Amarillo Globe News. ‘
In 2013, Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) examined 101 school districts across 14 states that pulled back on the hours of support staff such as teacher aides, bus drivers, and cafeteria workers, or they outsourced their job functions.
They raised concerns that cutting work hours hurts employees, school finances and students, especially when there is an extended teacher absence. How substitute teachers will be hired and staffed at reduced work days to stay under the ACA requirements could have a negative effect on the classroom.
Pre-Obamacare, a teacher’s long-term absence likely would have been filled with a long-term substitute. Now, under the federal healthcare mandate, this stands to become a revolving cast of 2-day per week substitutes which IBD believes will impact the functionality of classrooms. It brings little continuity to the students. Additionally, Obamacare changes also impact the substitute teacher as well, right on down to the ability to work, to make a living, and to acquire healthcare.
In December, Texas Insurance Department of Insurance associate commissioner Katrina Daniel spoke to a House panel, delivering troubling news that premiums would rise as high as 9 percent under Obamacare.
“Unfortunately, all of the increases are passed on to the employee,” superintendent Kelli Moulton from the neighboring Hereford ISD told the Globe-News. She added a sobering note, “Our board has recognized that and has provided pay raises this year, with a 2.5 percent increase for salaried employees and a 6.6 percent increase for hourly. However, we realize that most of our employees will not see an increase in take-home pay or the bottom line because of rising health care costs.”
Note: Breitbart Texas reached out to April McDaniel, spokeswoman for Canyon ISD to get more details on information she previously provided and to learn more about the impact Obamacare is having in their district for substitute teachers. Although we initially spoke, McDaniel did not return our calls with further information by press time.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.