School districts are facing vexing financial and operational questions about how they will comply with the Affordable Care Act, which some administrators say is forcing them to choose between absorbing the hefty costs of health coverage for currently uninsured employees or cutting back on those workers’ hours.
Among districts’ biggest concerns is a provision in the 2010 federal law that mandates that public and private employers with at least 50 workers provide health insurance to full-time workers—defined as those working an average of at least 30 hours a week—or face potentially steep fines.
Many districts have long relied on support-staff members—including bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and instructional aides—to perform a wide range of duties, in some cases juggling several assignments, without offering them health insurance.
Now, as they prepare for the provisions of the sweeping law to take hold, some districts are reducing employees’ hours below the law’s threshold, or considering doing so. Some school officials fear cutting hours will hurt employees by sapping their paychecks, and undermine K-12 services. <Read more.>