Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Obamacare healthcare compliance delayed a year — No need to cut the hours of TE employees!

Important Update:

Special School Board Meeting, Monday, July 9, 7 PM Tredyffrin/Easttown School District Administration Offices at 940 West Valley Road, Suite 1700, Wayne.

With Obamacare requirement for businesses with 50 or more employees delayed a year, Monday’s School Board meeting presents an opportunity for the Board to reverse its earlier decision and restore the hours of all aides, paraeducators and paraprofessionals. The Board has repeatedly said that these employees matter … now it’s up them to show us by reinstating their hours.


The Obama administration has just announced that it will delay Obamacare requirement that businesses (school districts) with more than 50 workers provide health insurance by one year. The Treasury Department has announced that the administration will start enforcing the mandate in 2015, rather than January 1, 2014 in order “to give business more time to prepare.”

Here’s hoping that the Tredyffrin Easttown School District will turn the ship around and make things right for the aides, paraeducators and paraprofessionals. Mark Mazur, assistant secretary for tax policy at the Treasury Department said in a statement, “During this 2014 transition period, we strongly encourage employers to maintain or expand health coverage.” What does this mean to the TE School District? Answer: There’s no longer any reason to decrease the hours of District employees from full-time to part-time for the 2013/14 school year!

The TE School Board is not scheduled to meet again until August, which is after the letters from the administration to the affected employees, are sent. There needs to be an immediate brake put on this process of cutting hours of aides and paras in TE School District – the 2013-14 school year will not be affected by Obamacare healthcare requirement. The School Board and the administration needs to do what is right for the employees and the children of this District. They need to reverse course and reinstate the hours of all aides, paraeducators and paraprofessionals. Plus, they do not have to offer health insurance to these employees, at this point. Everything can remain status quo, just make the affected employees whole by giving their hours back over 27.5 hours.

This situation presents a wonderful opportunity for the District to appoint a citizens group to review Obamacare and the compliance requirements during the 2013/14 school year. As we have learned, the topic is confusing and needs further study. As Mazur stated, lets all use 2014 as a transition period and learn more on the topic. As more information becomes available from Washington, I am certain that the School Board will be better positioned to work towards compliance for the following year.

If the employees are as important to the District as the School Board members say, there should be an easy solution to this situation. Let’s put the cut of hours of District employees ‘on hold’ until we have more answers. Please School Board, join the community in doing the right thing!

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  1. Pattie. I work at TEM. They made us respond by the first of July with the letters. They only gave us 5-6 days. most of the aides responded with their intent is to work in the fall. Then we were going to resign in August as we look for jobs elsewhere. However now???

    1. T/E Aide, I’m not sure I follow. I’ve read repeatedly that the kids are everyone’s top concern, but you (and several others apparently) hatched a plan to resign en masse in August after indicating that you would accept the district’s offer? But, now that there is a chance that your hours may (emphasis on may) increase, you are reconsidering?

      1. True colors. This blog wants the board to step up…and here we have someone admitting that the aides were going to “weasel out.”
        Again, please stop working with kids if you are this bitter. Find another place to work. If the kids were your top concern….well, never mind. Clearly, they were not.

        1. True colors… the democratic model…evidently the aides concern and love for the students is superceded sp by their disdain for the administration and board. remember those wisconsin legislators who went awol to another state? Happens

        2. Wait a minute! Weasel out! they gave us a limited time to decide. A lot of aides decided to say yes our intentions are to come back. We look for a job in the summer. In August if we find work and like our work we resign. You would do the same thing. It has nothing to do with the kids. We love the kids. At the same time we have bills to pay and we have to make sure we have money coming in. How is that being a weasel? Sideline get off your high horse. Yes we love the kids…but we do not do this work for free. I wish we had no expenses and we could do it as volunteers. That is not realistic. Maybe you should volunteer. There is nothing wrong with playing it safe and waiting to see if there are jobs out there for us, even if it means putting a two weeks notice in August. Do not call us weasels because we want to pay our sons and daughters school bills.

        3. In fact looking at this now. It was a smart move. By deciding to not over react and take the summer to look around may have saved us. If we I sent my letter back and said my intentions are not to come back. In other words “I will show you”! I would have just laid on my own sword. With this change in the Obama policy we would have been out of a job, plus if the board does the right thing and brings back our hours we lost, someone else would be working our jobs with those hours.

        4. We should all be grateful to President Obama for giving the workers and employers of America a reprieve on his watershed legislation. Individual payers, those you buy in the individual market will not be spared this landslide terrific legislation. Their premiums will go up up up. They are a small constituency and have no real voice, they are unimportant numbers wise considering the next election. This should be another wakeup call to the terrible pitfalls of ACA, yes just another one, but perhaps the most cynical of all.. Get it by the election of 14 and until then the “dumb” electorate will forget, jobs will be held on to until then, full timers will stay full time and after the elections, it will hit. Great governance. And we in TE have felt first hand the ramifications of this. Ok, yes better planning by the board and all that, but the pendulum of public opinion has driven this administration decision, and it should power its recision. We have a monarchy.

  2. This indeed appears to be a wonderful opportunity for a “status quo” for at least a year and a thorough examination of options for the longer term.

    But can the School Board act fast enough? T/E aide (above) suggests that letters have already gone out and responses made. Must the Board have a special meeting or will the Superintendent step up and take action. (In the Consent Agenda as voted on at the last Board meeting, the Superintendent is authorized to act on behalf of the School District during the summer.)

    The true intent of the Superintendent and/or School Board will be apparent soon.

    1. All Aides and concerned parents, teachers and residents should send letters or emails to the School Board prior to their newly announced special meeting for

      July 8, 2013 Special School Board Meeting
      The School Board will hold a special meeting on Monday, July 8, 2013 at 7:00 pm at the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District Administration Offices, 940 West Valley Road, Suite 1700 in Wayne, to review the Vanguard Assessment Appeal Resolution and other matters that may come before the Board.


      1. Yes, the District sent out a notice late this afternoon to their email list and have updated TESD website about the Special School Board Meeting on Monday, July 9 at 7 PM. Here’s the agenda:

        On the agenda, after the Vanguard Assessment/Appeal Resolution is ‘Other Recommended Action’ — looks to me like that is the perfect place for the School Board to propose turning the ship around re the cutting of aides/paras hours. To restore the hours of aides and paras will not cost the District a dime — they have just been handed a reprieve from the US government. The Board has the opportunity to do the right thing and show the community that the aides, paraeducators and paraprofessionals in TE do matter! Much will be learned about Obamacare requirements and implementation over the next year, so the Board can have the luxury to review and analyze as information from Washington continues to become available. I would really like to see this situation resolved on Monday night — easy solution. Just turn the clock back and take back the vote that cut the hours of affected employees! The community should not have to beg the School Board to reverse their vote — they should do it because it’s the right thing to do.

        1. I am curious about your word “reprieve”.. Yes I agree, great word. Reprieve from “execution” of our economic system, already on life support as we are at war with ourselves on so many issues… But a reprieve doesn’t necessarily meet exoneration. Our guillotine government will be looking for us next year, hopefully to reprieve and reprieve us over and over until a better answer can be found.,

          1. How about using the one-year reprieve in the mandate to provide relief to the aides and paras who are seeing their full-time hours cut to part-time. With the delay, the TE School Board and the public will now have an opportunity to fully understand the ACA compliance requirements. Based on Washington’s announcement, other school districts across the country have started announcing their intention to roll-back earlier decisions — and restore employees to full-time status for 2013/14 year. There is no reason that TE School Board should not do likewise.

            let the dus

      2. Pattye, that would be great if they did it.(reinstate hrs)I am skeptical on many levels, one being that even next year this will still be confusing and in a state of flux, But for this year it is good to be optimistic vis a vis our aides. Lets see what these chuckleheads on the board do…

        1. Restoring the hours of paras and aides is about doing what’s right. Why reduce the hours of employees and turn around and hire additional part-time employees when it is not necessary? Why use valuable administrator time in interviewing/hiring new employees when it is not necessary? It costs no additional money to keep these employees at their previous hours. Actually, it’s beyond than doing what’s right — it’s the practical decision for the Board to make. A win-win for the Board, the employees and most important the kids. And for those school board candidates that are on the November ballot (Buraks, Brake) it would seem that restoring the affected employees hours would be viewed favorably by the voters. Whereas not reversing course will be viewed negatively by the public.

  3. What this is is self incrimination and self defense. Brought to you by the Obama administration and its acolytes.

  4. yes Mr Mazur we need another year to “learn about this topic”.. incredible revelation from an federal govt employee in the thick of this mess….

  5. also, kudos to Neal Colligan who may have said to hold off for a year to see how all this shakes out..

  6. Now that the requirement that businesses provide their workers with health insurance or face fines will be delayed by a year, the T/E School Board should promptly reinstate the number of hours that aids worked previously. There is no logical need to limit the aids hours to 27.5 per week. If T/E School District is true to their words about maintaining a quality education for their students, the aids, paras should be offered back their previous hours.

    1. The School Board has an opportunity on Monday, July 9 at their Special School Board Meeting to reverse their previous vote and restore the hours of the aides and paraa.

  7. This is a golden opportunity for the School Board to do the right thing. I believe the delay gives the Board time to explore alternatives to slashing the hours of aides and paraprofessionals. Given the one year reprieve, there will be no costs associated with reinstating the hours of these District employees for the 2013-14 school year. It’s a win-win for the District, its employees and most importantly, the children.

    Consider that next year the District’s children will face the unnecessary mandated Keystone Exams. The role of the aides and paraprofessionals will be key in assisting our students to perform well.
    At the same time, we can be holding public meetings that would include healthcare experts familiar with the provisions of the affordable care act. I would like the community to have the opportunity to ask questions, and I encourage our board and community to continue to look at possible solutions to provide healthcare that is reasonable and affordable for our aides and paraprofessionals.

    To my friends on the school board, I am pleading with you to reconsider your prior vote due to the recent change in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Let’s explore the possibility of solutions together. There are many in the community who are eager to partner with the school district to maintain T/E’s excellence.

  8. All eyes will be watching the school board on Monday. By a vote at the Special School Board meeting, the Board can save the hours of the employees and safe face at the same time. I like Patty’s suggestion of a volunteer group to use this year to work on the healthcare issue and follow the updates on ACA implentation. The Board should view this as a gift to make things right for the aides & paras.

    1. dont think this board wants a volunteer community group to work on anything. Maybe the next board but it seems to me pretty clear this board, prodded by the administration,has their agenda set. and don’t think for a minute they dont believe, yes they do believe that they did in fact do what the community asked for in reducing hours and they feel vindicated and vindictive in saying we did what you asked and these are the consequences now live with them…

  9. Monday is July 8th, not the 9th.
    The bigger question is if the district has already hired new people to fill the reduced hours of current employees. If they made offers and signed contracts already how does that work? It would seem too quick for that, but who knows.

  10. When I heard this story today on the news, I immediately thought..”See, we were all on the right track asking the board to please wait a year to let things shake out a bit with the ACA before cutting hours.”
    Now the board has a chance to show some character and do the right thing by reversing their decision to cut hours for all aides and paras. The only glitch may now be some employees may have already returned their letters about their decision to come back in Sept. If an employee said “no” to returning, would the restoration of hours allow them to reconsider?
    The board needs to act swiftly and wisely on this…do the right thing, AND proceed with thorough research, guidance, multiple experts when planning for implementation of the ACA in 2015.
    Pattye, I do hope you have something left in you to bring to the meeting on Monday. I will be there, but cannot speak as I am not a resident.
    Thanks for your hard work.

  11. this would all be so funny if not so sad.and pathetic. Mickey mouse leadership on so many levels.

    My bet is things will remain as they are. part timers and new part timers to fill the voids, however that will work.

    I think the board as presently constituted will be content to leave things alone and move forward with the plan. Do you actually think they will listen to we community folks?

    By the way, if you think this is the last of the “obamacare”
    fake and juke, you are wrong. (sorry to be so blunt).. This plan will continue to be delayed, defunded, and finally be debunked..THis is only the beginning. And it will make planning very difficult for businesses, school districts. etc. So while we are all excited at the benevolence bestowed upon us from our higher ups, :) primarily so unemployment wont increase too much beyond the disgraceful levels already attained, in time for the elections,
    I am afraid our vaunted school board and Mr Waters are happily decided and Tiede is happily hiring new folks.. DONE.

    1. A comment here talks about wasting the administrations time hiring aides to fill in for the hours shorted the TESD aides. WHAT ABOUT THE TIME AND ATTENTION OF THE SPECIAL ED TEACHERS AND VETERAN AIDES TAKEN AWAY FROM THE STUDENTS DURING THE SCHOOL DAY FOR TRAINING THE NEW HIRES? It is only logical that this reduction in attention to the students will be reflected in the Keystone scores. There are consequences for the school when these scores fall. The Special Ed support rooms create most of the potential for gains or losses in test scores, providing the aides and teachers are available to the students, not trying to train new hires. On top of that there is the lag time for students and new hires to develop the kind of relationship necessary for efficient learning. People who have not spent time in the schools have no idea how these things affect each other.

      1. Another good point — the training of the new hires by current employees.

        There’s also the open issue about substitute teachers — I have been told that the their weekly hours are still not known. If a teacher is hired as a long-term sub, say for someone out on maternity leave, are her weekly hours capped at 27.5 hrs? The subs are still waiting on a confirmation letter from the administration.

        THe practical (and smart) decision is for the School Board to turn their decision around at Monday’s School Board meeting. There is no longer any reason to cut the hours of aides/paras (and substitute teachers) for the 2013/14 school year. And now they have the public meeting on Monday to make it happen.

        1. A LTS qualifies for benefits if there is a contracted period. They have contractual raises etc. The “sub” means they won’t try to bring someone in more than 4 days in a week…I would imagine. And the board did not need to take a vote on the hours — that was for the public request — so I doubt that they need to take another vote to change that.

      2. Actually, they really don’t care about the scores. Once a child is classified as needing “special Ed”, the scores of that child don’t materially effect the District’s “grade”.

        1. Please explain. It is my understanding that most of the Special Ed students take the tests, although some have accommodations such as additional time or reading it to them. However their scores are recorded. Do they just dump the scores later?
          Or are they weighted somehow so they do not “materially” change the District average?

        2. Guy is misinformed about the PSSA scores of special ed students. Every district is concerned.
          The label of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is dependent on the district meeting goals for all subgroups including: Economically Disadvantaged (Title I), Limited English Proficiency, Students with Individualized Education Programs (e.g. special ed) , Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, White Students, and Multi-racial/Multi-ethnic Students. Schools that fail to meet AYP for two consecutive years are subject to sanctions, such as loss of funding and restaffing.

  12. The decision of the school board should be re-evaluated in light of the recent changes the Obama administration. I echo many of the previous comments that there is no reason for the hours of the aides and paras to be cut short. It sounds as though the school board did not thoroughly think through and plan for Obamacare and made a quick decision to just cut hours of aides and paras.

    I believe that many of the aides and para are professionals come to work to improve the education of the students in the district. It is hard to believe that the school district would cut the hours of those who are compassionate and dedicated to the children in the school district; these individuals will be difficult to replace. The school board should value professionals who want more hours to provide better education to the students of the district. In my opinion, there is no win there for the school district to cut the hours. REINSTATE THE HOURS!

  13. margaritaville- If you think that the obamacare legislation is a beard for the boards agenda you are crazy. All of us who are in industry realize what this legislation is doing across a large variety of other industries. If anything the board should be blasted for not putting a plan in place when the original talks of healthcare reform arose… Like EVERY OTHER industry has done. My only reservation is that they have not thought out the potential loss of these employees and the affect on their end goal which is… educating children… The district has been sloppy with their management of our tax money and when a tough decision needs to finally be made.. well they cant step up to the plate and come up with a real world solution that does not devalue there product. What needs to happen is extend the work of the aides for this coming year. During that year the district needs to come up with solutions of cost cutting that will not effect FTE’s. If at that time no options are found than they need to go ahead with current directive. I hope they can use this year to get everything together.

  14. obamacare is a mustache. maybe not a beard. And it is at least one major player in the boards shakespearean tragedy here. PSERS.. and a lacksadaisical sp approach to governance. So I do agree with you, frankly that there were options available and the one they ultimately took was what was recommended by the community, generally, and it came back to bite the community.. Going forward lets see if the board has the cajones to to the right thing, this monday. Wanna bet?

    1. I know of no one in the community who recommended cutting employee hours to avoid compliance with the law. Opposing outsourcing of District jobs does not mean that we recommended or supported a reduction in the hours of employees. Please do not say that our School Board ‘listened’ to the community with their decision to cut hours — it’s simply not true.

      1. Actually,
        if you recall Dr. Water’s statement at the ‘great outsourcing showdown of 2013’ meeting, he stated that he thought outsourcing would be the better option for the district so people could keep their hours and there would be continuity for the children. He acknowledged that perhaps he was wrong and that the many people who spoke out about having their hours reduced as OK was a surprise to him.

        1. During the required inservice training day for all TE aides & paras, Dr. Waters told us that the District had to outsource because they couldnt decrease hours. He said the reason was because it would mean hiring alot more employees if they cut our hours.

  15. well I was sitting at the meeting and people were saying cut hrs. Many. I do not have a recording of the minutes but I can tell you with out doubt that the discussion among aides and paras was why dont they just reduce our hours UNDER 30 hrs to avoid compliance issues with ACA…

    1. I recall hearing a few aides that worked 30 hrs. a week, asking the District to cut their hours back by 30 min – to make it 29.5 hrs/wk. That discussion from the employees was never based on a 27.5 hr (or less) weekly rate — it was assumed that because the ACA said less than 30 hours, cutting back by 30 min. would meet the requirement. However, for some reason the School Board and the Administration interpreted the ACA compliance to mean that employees had to have their hours capped at 27.5 hours or less per week.

      Here’s the disconnect — there are many, many aides/paras (and substitute teachers) who are in the 37 hr. a week category and they certainly never suggested cutting their hours by 30% to reach the 27.5 hr. week. Further, the District aides, paraeducators and paraprofessionals were told by Dan Waters that the District would not opt to cut the employee hours because it would then require the hiring of at least 35 new employees.

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