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Thursday, Mar 26, 2015

'Obamacare' costs spur look into outsourcing


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BROOKSVILLE - The Affordable Care Act, referred to colloquially as "Obamacare," is expected to add $707,194 in health insurance expenditures to the school district next year.

The school district is the county's largest employer, and much of the added costs concerns substitute teachers rather than part- and full-time employees.

The district already provides health insurance for both part- and full-time employees, according to Executive Director of Business Services Heather Martin, and the district will continue to do so even though the Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide insurance to employees working 30 or more hours a week.

In an effort to cut costs, the school board tentatively approved a piggybacking contract that would allow the district to outsource an estimated 104 substitute teachers through a private firm.

The educational staffing agency would handle all aspects of substitute teachers, paraprofessionals, custodians, and food service and clerical workers, according to the district.

The district estimates that piggybacking on an insurance bid outside the county could save the district a potential $251,690, bringing the total added health insurance costs to $465,504.

The district says it also stands to benefit from no payroll, unemployment, or workers' compensation costs.

The district also expects to benefit from reduced recruiting, screening, and training costs, and allow for the reallocation of scarce staff resources in human resources, finance, and school offices, officials said.

The district paid for approximately 208,000 substitute hours in 2013, according to the district.

Aside from health insurance benefits, the staffing agency could also provide weekly pay and ePaystub, 401(k) plan, recognition program, possible summer assignments, Substitute Teacher of the Year Award, and toll-free employee service hotline, according to the district.

The school board also gave notice to renew their current substitute management contract, but begin the outsourcing process prior to June 30.

Martin said the company the district is considering entering into a contract with has a proven track record.

Martin was asked by the board to appraise nearby counties' insurance contracts and how they compare to the district's. Martin is expected to present that information to the board during a later workshop prior to a vote on the measure.

??In other education news, the school board agreed this week to increase Internet bandwidth and speed at an annual cost of $51,487, according to a presentation given during a board workshop Tuesday.

Hernando County Education Foundation will provide a $50,000 grant to the district to apply toward those costs, district officials said.

"Anything to improve the slowness of the computers at the schools would be wonderful," said board member Cynthia Moore, who serves as a volunteer at Brooksville Elementary School. "Sometimes I have to just wait, and wait, and wait."

The upgrades are expected to increase Internet speeds 10 times their current speed, according to the district.

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