During Thursday's meeting of the SISD (Sweetwater Independent School District) Board of Trustees, discussion was held on the Affordable Care Act (ACA)--the changes made by the federal government on health insurance--and how it will affect the school district.
According to SISD Superintendent Terry Pittman, substitute teachers who work over 30 hours a week would have to be offered health care by the district. The ACA specifies that an employee who works 30 hours a week is at full-time work status.
As a result, the district is looking at ways to track hours or the possibility of an hourly rate for substitutes. One method which could be used--which is in place for some employees already--is having substitute teachers clock in.
At each campus, iPod Touches have been mounted to the wall, in which an app is in place to track hours. Substitutes would scan a QR code, which would "clock in" the worker and track work hours.
The method could be used as early as next year, in order to let the district learn the best way of tracking hours.
Another issue posed by the ACA is who can actually be covered by health insurance, which impacts the superintendent. Some rules were changes when the federal law was passed, one of which would require taxes to be paid on the superintendent's coverage.
To be in compliance, the method would change to where the district would put money aside for the superintendent--like a stipend--which would be repaid for tax purposes. Deemed as an appropriate measure, the superintendent's contract would need to be clarified to include the change and have to be addressed on a yearly basis.
In the instance that the district was out of compliance, they could be penalized $100 a day per employee. Thus, a daily fine of $379,000 could possibly be imposed.
A final concern is the price of insurance, which has risen considerably. And although deductibles have gone up in cost, the coverage has either stayed the same or decreased.
Sweetwater ISD has been discussing the matter with administrators from Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital (RPMH), in which they were informed that Shannon Clinic will not be a clinic that accepts First Care--a widely used insurance by district employees--by the end of August of this year.
However, the hospital is working toward accepting First Care, which would lead to the addition of family doctors. Additionally, school employees will be informed of any and all changes.
Overall, the changes made by the federal government will go into effect in January 2014, but some allowances have been made which allows the school district to enact the changes at the start of September 2014. The time delay works in favor of the school, giving them more time to learn about the act, as many rules and regulations were not set when the act was passed by the federal government.