South Putnam debates joining statewide health care lawsuit

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Like most area schools, the South Putnam School Corporation has been approached to join a lawsuit, which is challenging the fines to employers if they do not meet certain requirements of the Affordable Health Care Act.

Currently, 15 school corporations across Indiana have joined the lawsuit and it continues to gain popularity.

"I was contacted by Jim Hamilton, he is the lawyer that works for the Wabash Valley West Central Indiana School Health Trust," Superintendent Bruce Bernhardt explained. "He's sent resolutions around to all the members of our School Trust asking if they would be interested in adoption a resolution, which would add our name to the list of the schools."

Bernhardt noted that Hamilton is trying to get as many schools as possible added to the list to show that there is wide participation across the state to join the suit.

"The bottom line is the suit is challenging the fines to the employers if they don't meet the requirements and regulations and that they'd be lifted and school's be exempt from those regulations," Bernhardt explained.

Like many schools in the area, South Putnam decided earlier in the year, to cut the hours of many of its employees to under 30 per week.

This was due to a stipulation in the Affordable Health Care Act that stated that those who had 50 or more employees must provide health insurance for those who work 30 or more hours.

"As you know schools across the state, South Putnam included, have gone back to avoid huge costs to the school corporation and have cut classified employees' hours. We thought originally that when the health care law schools would be exempted from it. It's caused an undo burden on school corporations."

Although, there is no cost for the corporation to join the list, the board chose to table the resolution Monday evening until more information is collected.

Board member Wesley Hacker noted that the board would like affirmation that it's of no cost to the corporation in hopes of protecting itself from a possible future conflict.

Classified employees received some good news as the board approved a one percent increase in their wages. The increase is for all classified employees who do not have an automatic built-in increment already.

"This would be retroactive to the beginning of the year, but we'll make the changes in January," Bernhardt said. "We won't actually make the changes 'til we get through the end of the semester, because in January they have to do all of the changes on the insurance anyway."

The board also approved a variety of surplus equipment as recommended by Steve Ricketts of Five Star Technologies.

"It's basically trash," Bernhardt said. "We'll dispose of it through a similar fashion of what we've done in the past."

Ricketts noted to the board that the free service is done by certified employees who make sure everything is properly destroyed and no personal data is left behind.

"This is all stuff that it would cost more to repair than it is worth," Ricketts said. "You get to that point where it's just not worth it. This is a safe way to dispose of them."

Bernhardt also presented two quotes to the board for the repair of the grading around the pool in the high school.

The quotes presented were from Spear Corp. for $19,658 as well as Renosys for $14,900.

The board chose to go with Renosys as the company did the original installation of the pool.

In other business:

* The board approved the resignation of part-time food service employee Jessica Stewart; the retirement of Allan Rains, which will be effective at the end of the 2013-14 school year; and the hiring of Evan Trotta as assistant varsity swim coach at the middle school/high school.

* The board approved the FCA to attend the Indianapolis Colts FCA game day as well as a joint social studies and science trip to Chicago for seventh and eighth-grade students.

* The board approved the adoption of the 2013 budget, CPF and School Bus Replacement Plans, Resolutions and CPF Notice of Adoption.

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  • Who is considered a classified employee? Does that include foods services, janitors and the bus drivers? If not they need to be included and given a raise since it has been nearly 10 years since the last raise that they received. And South Putnams bus drivers are the LOWEST paid in the county, and one of the lowest in the state!

    -- Posted by spmom on Wed, Oct 23, 2013, at 3:09 PM
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