By Nate Smith
Part-time employees of Washington schools might see some hours cut as they, like schools across the country, get ready for Obamacare.
The Washington School Board heard news Thursday about the new health care act, officially called the Affordable Care Act, and said many part-time workers may have to see hours cut to below 30. The cut, Superintendent Daniel Roach said, was to fall under the proposed mandate of 30 hours.
The reason, Roach said, was funding. Although the schools offer health care to the teachers, administrators, full time personnel and board members, the school will have to look at positions like substitute teachers, coaches and cafeteria workers to make sure they fall under the 30-hour-a-week minimum.
“It is going to be a very cumbersome task,” Roach said. “It really creates a lot of problems for our non-certified staff.”
Under the new health care law, set to be implemented in 2014, any business that employs 50 people has to offer health insurance. If not, a fine is levied by the government. In exchange, everyone is required to purchase health insurance and can do so through government exchanges.
At least, in theory, is how the law is supposed to work. But the reality has been different as many decisions on the gargantuan law becomes ready to be implemented. Roach said schools were supposed to have guidance on the new law earlier this year, but has not received it.
The superintendent said to offer health insurance to the school’s part-time employees would be a cost they could not afford.
“We don’t have a chance with funding as it currently stands,” Roach said. “We don’t have a chance with funding as it currently stands. We don’t have all the answers.”
As a preventative measure, the board voted for a resolution that would take responsibility for any penalties with the health care law onto the school rather than an individual person, as the law says.
More decisions are expected in the coming months, Roach said.
Home school football
Before the regular board agenda, Brant Ackerman and his wife addressed the board. The Ackermans have a son who is home schooled, but wants to play seventh grade football. The parents asked the board to grant their son a waiver.
“I think it would show Washington is a cutting-edge school,” Ackerman said. “It is an opportunity to touch other students you would normally not see.”
State regulations have changed according to home school students. State law and also the Indiana High School Athletic Association now allows home school students to play if the school allows it. Ackerman presented the board a letter of support from the current football coach, JR Wright, and said varsity coach Kelly Brashear also supports the move.
Ackerman said it is his knowledge the seventh grade may not have enough students to field a team this season. The board said they would take the matter under advisement and let the family know.
The board unanimously voted to adopt a new policy for students transferring from outside the school district. Because of full class sizes, there will be no elementary school students but 20 may be allowed for high school students, if the class size allows it.
“There are situations where some classes will likely be full,” Roach said.
Leaks at Griffith
Roach informed the board he is consulting with a repair company called Moisture Management on the ongoing roof issues at Griffith Elementary.
He said the roof in several areas of the school continue to leak, causing problems in the gymnasium and has damaged several computers and needs repair. He said there is no money to replace the roof, and hopes to have an estimate to repair it next summer. Assistant Superintendent Gary Puckett said the roof has been an issue for years, even since its renovation in the 1990s.
“We’ve repaired it over the past six or seven years to bandage it,” Puckett said.
When asked on what will happen until then, Roach could not offer an alternative.
“At this point, we will continue as we have,” Roach said.
“It is not a good scenario,” Board member Peg Stephens said.
The board then discussed some options on repairing it sooner.
The board accepted the following resignations: Jay Neuhoff as high school Project Lead the Way teacher; Kristin Allison as junior high cheer coach and junior high assistant girls track coach; Jennifer Skomp as elementary teacher; and Brian Burris as elementary teacher.
The following appointments were then accepted: Jennifer Peachee, Cynthia Wilson and Scott Griffith, freshman class co-sponsors; Wilson, Beta Club sponsor; Cheryl Lemon and Sue Clifton, junior class sponsors; Juana Santos, English as a new language teacher; Kevin Potts, North Elementary custodian; Linda Donovan and Erica Taber, elementary teachers; Micah York, junior high language arts teacher; Joe Furman, Project Lead the Way teacher; Jennifer Skomp as Veale secretary; and Anthony Barnard, Cathy Stenftenagel and Larry Mattes, summer counselors.
Also hired was Stacy Bryant as girls varsity soccer coach. Bryant was congratulated at the end of the meeting by board members.
“There were a lot of good candidates,” Board member Randy Bouchie said.
Textbook fees and lunch rates
Textbook fees for the upcoming school year were set by the board. The fees are, for elementary: Kindergarten, $90.60; first grade, $112.85; second grade, $97.30; third grade, $83.75; fourth grade, $77.90; fifth grade, $79; sixth grade, $79.30. High school textbook fees are set by class.
School lunch fees will remain unchanged this coming year as the board accepted bread and dairy bids. Lunch will cost a student $2.50 at the elementary and $2.75 at the high school. Reduced prices and breakfast prices will also remain the same.
Last year, Washington schools served 106,647 breakfast meals and 302,610 lunches. Prairie Farms and Aunt Millie’s bakeries were selected as providers.
Registration dates were announced for the upcoming school year. At the elementary and junior high schools, registration will be from July 30 to Aug. 1 and from July 24 to Aug. 1 at the high school. Online registration will start on July 24.