Part-timers, substitutes seeing hours cut
By will Sentell
Louisiana public school superintendents are having to scramble for substitute teachers or offer costly health insurance to part-time workers because of the Affordable Care Act.
“It absolutely is an issue,” said Patricia Pujol, superintendent of the Ascension Parish school system and former president of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents.
Worries about running afoul of the Affordable Care Act — also known as “Obamacare” — have forced officials in Ascension Parish to turn the hunt for substitute teachers to a staffing agency to track hours and avoid federal penalties.
Michael Faulk, superintendent of the Central school system, said his district is trying to find new substitutes and he plans to push for legislation next year to increase their ranks.
The Lincoln Parish school district in northeast Louisiana has trimmed weekly hours for 400 substitute teachers and other part-time workers to 28 — two below the cutoff number — and boosted the minimum wage by $2 per hour, to $10.50, because of of the federal health insurance law. The change applies to 400 substitute teachers, maintenance workers, food service employees and paraprofessionals, George Murphy, business manager for the district, said in an email response to questions.
The uproar in education circles, as well as other industries nationwide, stems from a part of the law that requires employers to offer health insurance coverage to part-time workers who are employed 30 hours or more per week, or face federal fines of up to $2,000 per person.
Archive for the ‘Lincoln Parish School Board’ Category
by Charles Lussier
Substitute teachers in East Baton Rouge Parish public schools can’t work more than 29 hours a week these days as part of an effort to avoid having to pay federal penalties, starting in 2015, for not providing health insurance to employees who work more than 30 hours a week.
Several School Board members jumped on the issue when it came up unexpectedly Thursday night during an unrelated presentation on recent school performance scores.
Board member Mary Lynch said the 29-hour-a-week cap is causing havoc at schools on Thursdays and Fridays after substitute teachers have reached their limit.
“You use a sub for the first 3½ days of the week, and then you can’t find someone to cover those classrooms,” Lynch said.
Board members Jill Dyason and Vereta Lee also said they received complaints about the 29-hour limit, which they said they were unaware of before. They said they want more information from school administrators about the rule.
Domoine Rutledge, general counsel for the school system, said the school system has elected to limit the hours of substitute teachers in advance of the implementation next year of a federal “employer mandate,” which is part of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The per-employee penalty for not providing insurance to workers who clock more than 30 hours a week is $2,000, he said.
Despite an insurance money pinch for part-time personnel, and a roughly 10% reduction in personnel over the past few years, the Lincoln Parish School District appears to have ample money for numerous construction projects for the foreseeable future. At Tuesday night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB), a draft list of capital expenditures for the next five years was reviewed.
See here the document.
Through 2019, nearly $15 million will be spent, with most of the money coming from proceeds of the $20 million bond election that was passed two years ago, and the remainder from the general fund. The shaded projects are the ones funded from the bond money.
Earlier in the meeting, School Improvement Coordinator Donna Doss reported on the Student Performance Scores for 2013-1014.
See here our comprehensive 10/21/14 report on the scores.
Business Manager George Murphy reported that October sales tax collections were above budget.
See here the report.
District 2 – David Ferguson, 62%, Eddie Jones (incumbent), 38%.
District 1 – Susan Wiley, 59%, Mattie Harrison (incumbent), 31%.
With 4 of 6 precincts reporting, Curtis Dowling 80%, Mary Harris 20%.
BY Elizabeth Crisp
Facing a more than $3 million deficit, Grambling University plans to increase faculty teaching loads while requiring furloughs, provide incentives for 15 faculty members to retire, and possibly even shutter the Grambling Laboratory Schools.
Interim President Cynthia Warrick announced the drastic measures to help cash-strapped Grambling regain sound financial footing during a meeting with faculty and staff on campus Thursday.
Warrick attributed much of the immediate problem to the university’s drastic decrease in enrollment this fall.
The university’s fall enrollment is 4,504 — down 11 percent from last year. Based on the tuition rate, Warrick estimated the university is out $3.7 million.
Warrick said she’s hopeful the state will step in and provide $762,000 for Grambling’s lab schools to stay open past May 2015.
“It will be up to the Legislature and the governor and the Louisiana Board of Education,” Warrick said. “I don’t think anyone’s going to do anything about it unless we tell them we’re going to close those laboratory schools.”
See here a video of Warrick’s comments.
The data is from the Louisiana Department of Education.
See the complete report cards for the individual schools here:
There was some good news at Tuesday’s school board meeting – recognition of two National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists from Ruston High School (RHS).
Austin Meng is the son of Dave and June Meng. He has maintained a 4.0 GPA and scored a 35 on the ACT. A member of the two-time state championship RHS Swim Team, he has been inducted into the National Honor Society and serves as a Bearcat Mentor. Austin is the pianist for the Barnett Springs Baptist Church, is a fundraiser for Relay for Life and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and has participated in Operation Christmas Shoebox and Nicaragua Feeding Stations. Recently named the Rotary Student of the Month, he has been named the State Literary rally overall winner in both Algebra II and Geometry and won state titles in both the 400 Free Relay and 200 Free Relay during the LHSAA Division II boys state swimming championships. Austin plans to study the sciences or engineering in college and is considering Louisiana Tech, Georgia Tech, and Stanford universities.
Nicholas Ruff is the son of Michael and Sonya Ruff. He has earned a 4.0 GPA as well and scored a 32 on his ACT. Inducted into the National Honor Society, he is a four-year member of both the reigning state championship RHS swim team and the Bearcat Band where he currently serves as Band Staff Manager. A member of First Baptist Church in Ruston and its Youth Group, Nicholas also serves at Rolling Hills and is a volunteer swim coach. The proud recipient of two consecutive LHSAA Division II Boys state swimming championship rings, he is a nominee and participant in Louisiana Boys State and has also been named Rotary Student of the Month for this year. Although undecided on a college a major, Nicholas is considering engineering at Louisiana Tech, Louisiana State, or Texas A&M universities.
In presenting the two with plaques Tuesday night, Lincoln ACHIEVE Coordinator Cathi Cox-Boniol said, “We congratulate these outstanding young men on their exemplary academic performance and the splendid manner in which they represent the Lincoln Parish School District, and wish them the very best of luck as they continue in this prestigious competition.”
As we had noted last night, the Tuesday night meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB) started out with a surprise and a little bit of drama. The agenda was amended to add discussion of the school board/DA “loan” issue, at the request of Bill Smith, who often attends board meetings. As it takes a unanimous vote of the board to amend, it’s an iffy thing to get something that is controversial on the agenda.
However, District 9’s Lynda Henderson made the motion, and District 7’s Trott Hunt seconded it. And pass it did, with a couple of hesitant votes by members who had to think a bit before saying yea or nay.
When the item came up on the agenda later in the meeting, Superintendent Danny Bell began by explaining the Truancy Program and its history, and how it worked closely with the school system. He also said the program is supported via state and federal grants. In this case, Bell explained, the grant monies are late, and the DA’s office had a shortfall as a result.
Bell went on to say that after consultation with legal council, he felt he had full authority to make expenditures for services rendered that occur pertaining to operation of the district.
When Smith spoke, he thanked the board for the opportunity to address the issue, and asked whether the money was a “loan” or for “payment of services.”
Bell answered that in either case, he was within his authority to what he did. He said that he expected repayment by the end of the year. Bell noted that grants to the board from the feds or the state are sometimes late, and they have to temporarily make up the shortfall from the general fund.
By this time, District 1’s Mattie Harrison spoke up and had the following to say: “Mr. Bell, I would like to say in the future, so that we will have input on the questions coming from the public, and you also being our employee, that we have a letter addressed to the board to be on the agenda, and what it is about, so that we can address the questions correctly.” She added, “But I can assure you that if I’d had this in writing early enough, and put on the agenda correctly, that I would be able to help in situation so Mr. Smith would have a better understanding.”
Bell said that in the future it would be done that way.
Smith said then wasn’t questioning the truancy program, but just the way that it was handled. He again asked if the money would be repaid, to which Bell and his staff indicated that there was no absolute guarantee that it would be. It depends on when/if the grant money is forthcoming, they said.
District 11’s George Mack, Jr. spoke about his unease with the News Star’s Sunday news story, and the way it was reported.
Said Mack, “That article in the News Star, in my opinion, not speaking for any of my colleagues here, impugned the integrity of this board. I take exception to it.” He added, “It was done in poor taste, in my opinion. It never should have been written in the way it was.” He concluded, “Now, if that writer was here, I’d have some questions for that person. But they’re not here.”
Finally, we asked how a document that represented that it was from the school board could be signed by the superintendent without the knowledge of the board.
Board President Otha Anders said that “school board” may not refer to the board proper, but could mean the system or district.
Said Anders, “We use that term generally to refer to the whole system. Oftentimes, its not referring to the twelve of us who sit around here. We use that term to cover the entire Lincoln Parish system, instead of Lincoln Parish School Board. That might not be acceptable to some, but that has been a general practice.”
We did obtain copies of the pertinent documents that were discussed. See them here:
The board earlier had conducted a couple of items of business. They approved the award of bids for the Choudrant High School Track, and payment of the November salary supplement checks.
Here are the memos: