Obamacare requirements could impact whether Plum handles its own substitute teachers

| Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Before deciding on Kelly Educational Services' future in the Plum School District, school board members say they want to learn more about a federal insurance requirement for employees that takes effect in 2015.

The board last week tabled a vote on terminating the district's agreement with Kelly, which has provided substitute workers including teachers for a few years.

Nearly two hours of discussion and three rounds of voting preceded the 6-3 decision.

The majority of board members said they want more information about the potential financial impact of an employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act.

Employers with more than 50 workers, starting next year, will be required to provide health insurance for those who put in “on average at least 30 hours of service per week” or face penalties, according to the IRS website.

“We need accurate data to make valid decisions,” board President Sal Colella said late last week.

Colella said he worries about the potential cost next year to provide health insurance to substitute employees.

Colella estimates about 65 Kelly substitutes work in the district, and the district also employs about 70 part-time workers.

“That's 136 people (for whom) we have a liability to provide health insurance,” Colella said.

“And we didn't approve a tax increase. Where are we going to get the money?”

David Stieving, area manager for Kelly Services, said the firm would not plan to charge the district more in the next two years as a result of the employer mandate.

Stieving said Kelly would look at the potential for a rate increase in the 2016-17 school year.

Kelly officials estimate that about 20 to 30 percent of the substitutes who work in Plum would be eligible for health insurance next year, he said.

“We will be fully in compliance with the Affordable Care Act, not limit classroom hours (for substitute teachers) and not lower the pay rate,” Stieving said after the board meeting.

Board members Kevin Dowdell, Loretta White and Richard Zucco voted against delaying a decision on whether to terminate the agreement with Kelly. A similar motion failed in two earlier rounds of voting.

Some board members questioned the need to terminate the agreement, saying the board's 5-4 vote to approve a 2014-15 budget that eliminated the use of Kelly Educational Services was sufficient.

White, who has voiced dissatisfaction with Kelly and advocates moving the duty of finding substitutes back in-house, disagreed.

“I see this as an end run around what the board originally decided on,” White said. “It's very sneaky.”

District Solicitor Lee Price said a separate vote to give Kelly 30 days' notice of the district's intention to terminate the agreement was necessary.

“The budget is an estimate,” Price said. “You (board members) approve expenditures throughout the year.”

Superintendent Timothy Glasspool, who recommended retaining Kelly, said eliminating the firm's services would save the district about $57,000 a year.

White, addressing questions about new requirements for employee coverage, said she thinks some younger workers would not require health insurance because they would remain on their parents' plans.

Under the Affordable Care Act, children can be added or kept on a parent's health insurance policy until they turn 26.

White also suggested the cost would be minimized if part-time workers were given coverage that is less comprehensive than the district provides to its nearly 400 full-time employees.

Colella disagreed, and said all employees should be offered the same type of coverage.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-871-2367 or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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