GHS to cut part-time hours, give small pay increase
While the exact effects of the Affordable Care Act remain to be seen, schools and local governments are gearing up with adjustments in how the handle part-time employees.
Greencastle Schools authorities have been wrestling with this question in recent months, coming to the hard decision to cut the hours of part-time workers to 29.5 or fewer hours.
The changes will apply to instructional assistants and kitchen assistants, a total of 54 GCSC employees.
While also part-time, bus drivers do not typically work enough hours to have any issues with the new law.
The changes are prompted by the definition in the Affordable Care Act of a full-time employee as anyone who averages 30 hours or more of work per week. Under old policies, Greencastle would run afoul of this standard, with part-time employees sometimes working 33 to 35 hours per week.
As full-time workers under the new standard, the school would have to offer insurance to these employees. Such benefits would come at a cost the school cannot afford.
School officials this would come at a cost to the corporation of around $500,000.
"That's half a million dollars that is not in the budget," Superintendent Dawn Puckett told the school board Wednesday.
The matter is further complicated by the fact that many of these people also serve as coaches or advisers for extracurricular activities, as well as working school events and sometimes driving students to events.
Such activities would also count against the 30-hour standard, meaning any calculation of hours would have to include the additional activities.
"They are a mainstay of our corporation's success," Puckett said. "If we have to track those hours and use those for insurance eligibility, it's going to hurt."
All of this led the administration to make the hard choice to limit the hours of these employees to an average of 29.5 hours, safely within the 30-hour standard.
A six-month look-back period will go into effect on July 1 for the Jan. 1, 2014 implementation of the Affordable Care Act, so such standards will be in effect at the school at the beginning of the next school year in August.
Puckett said administrators have been meeting with the affected parties, keeping them abreast of what decisions may have to be made.
"This is the reality we are faced with and it's the adjustment we have to make," Puckett said. "It's going to make it tougher on the teachers. It's going to be harder to teach the students."
She praised the employees' reaction to the news, but said it didn't make the decision any easier.
"All the employees have been gracious and kind in their response," the superintendent said. "Nonetheless, they are adversely affected."
In an effort to minimize the adverse effects, the board took action on a recommendation by Puckett to give all instructional and cafeteria assistants a $0.50 per hour raise.
She admitted the raise would not make up the difference in lost pay, but hoped it would help in some way.
"They will still come out behind," Puckett said.
The board unanimously accepted the proposal.
In other less than enjoyable news to board members, two longtime educators announced their retirements, effective at the end of the school year.
Tzouanakis Intermediate guidance counselor Jan Evans is retiring after 40 years.
Likewise, Tzouanakis physical education teacher Trish Lowe is stepping down after 32 years on the job.
Other personnel matters included:
* Shirley White retiring as GMS cafeteria assistant; Jo Ellen Remsburg resigning as database coordinator; Cheryl Phillips resigning as GMS cafeteria assistant; and Tonya King and Betty Chandler resigning as GMS noon aides.
* Art Dwigans resigned as GHS boys' cross country coach and GMS middle school coach.
* Brittany Labhart hired as business/tech-nology teacher at GHS; Jeremy Kiesler hired as GHS science teacher; Michelle Thomas hired as temporary teacher at Deer Meadow; Jessica Smith hired as Tzouanakis media specialist; Megan Smith hired as Tzouanakis guidance counselor; Brad Phillips transferred from fourth-grade teacher to physical education teacher at Tzouanakis; Megan Jackson transfer from temporary to full-time technology teacher.
* Angie Berry transfer to GMS cafeteria; Amanda Haddon transfer to Deer Meadow cafeteria manager; Chelsea Trammel transfer from substitute to full-time custodian; Teresa Perry and Casey Rossok hired as substitute bus drivers.
* Summer school teachers and other summer positions were also approved: Windi Haltom as elementary lead teacher; Hannah Mitchell as elementary teacher; Janice Heavin as technology assistant; Carol Clark, Jennifer Beck, Andra Guyer, Brenda Green, Lindsey Fenwick, Martha Sutherlin, Laurie Ferguson and Valerie Lenihan as bus cleaners; Kim Rossok, Lisa Torrence and Courtney Dickey as instructional assistants; and Callan Taylor and Sydney Smiley as bookstore employees.