I am passionate about our community’s history and the preservation of our historic buildings and the demolition of the house on Pugh Road has had my attention the last few days. The discussion on the township’s historic resources will continue but I want to get back to other issues, including the TESD budget and the District’s compliance of Affordable Care Act.
The school district held a special meeting on January 6 to present the preliminary budget proposal and for a ACA presentation by Rhonda Grubbs, Wisler Pearlstine attorney and Art McDonnell, District’s business manager. (See Community Matters related post). Following the ACA presentation, many questions remained. School board president Kevin Buraks told the audience that the ACA discussion would next be discussed at the Finance Committee meeting on Monday, January 13.
I attended the January 13th Finance Committee expecting further discussion of the ACA. However, the decision was to postpone any additional ACA discussion to the next full school board meeting — upcoming on Monday, January 27. Although it was the decision of the school board members attending the Finance Committee meeting to postpone the ACA discussion, Pete Motel actively reached out to the community and asked that we provide our own ideas for compliance to the school board. Remember, all TESD employees are not currently offered health care benefits – facing the ACA compliance deadline, the Board needs to decide what to do about the aides, paras and substitute teachers, the employees not currently receiving health benefits.
The Finance Committee meeting is not videotaped so probably few in the community are aware that Motel encouraged ideas and suggestions about ACA compliance from the public. If you want to help keep the jobs of the aides and paras from outsourcing, they need to have health coverage. This is important and the Board needs to hear from the public. Send your suggestions, (be specific) to firstname.lastname@example.org and share those ideas for discussion on Community Matters.
Compliance with the ACA is not an easy task for the Board. There are many factors to consider and I think the Board left the ACA presentation with as many questions as members of the public. The ACA presentation gave a negative, ‘cannot be done’ slant to the compliance situation. However, there are people in the community that believe that there are other options for the Board to consider.
In an email, resident Ray Clarke suggests that it is important for the Board, “to base the analysis on reasonable estimates of any underlying variables (family vs single status, % opting out in favor of cash, etc. while of course, recognizing that the actual outcomes could be different (back up with budget contingencies, fund balance commitments). The values for these assumptions should be published along with the impacts.”
Taking school board member Pete Motel’s suggestion to heart, Ray sent a list of ACA ideas to the Board and they are included below:
- Provide the “current” healthcare plan to full time aides, paras, subs, and so make the non-discrimination test moot. Make reasonable estimates for and publish all the assumptions: premium share, family status, coverage provided, wage adjustment, coverage waiver bonus, etc.
- Provide a minimum “basic-care” employee-coverage-only plan to full time aides, paras, subs and Admin. Deal with the Admin group as Keith has suggested on CM. Make assumptions as above.
- Facilitate the formation of a union/bargaining group for either the Admin group or the aides, paras, subs so that their benefits can be bargained separately and avoid the non-discrimination test.
- Cap hours/days of all aides/paras/subs at 27.5 hours/3.5 days. Flesh out the impact on students and management overhead and provide realistic estimate of any partially compensating salary increase.
- Outsource as needed. Provide guesstimate of impact based on rates paid for current out-sourced employees and from last year’s discussions with vendors.
I think that the Board should also have a table comparing compensation rates and all benefits (including PSERS) for aides, paras, subs in neighboring school districts.
Perhaps the Board can also be encouraged to get direct feedback from the affected employees. There are web-based tools that could be used, for example, for a simple anonymous ranking of employee priorities (while of course recognizing that the priorities are not in practice independent and none can be guaranteed).