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Board seeks more info on ACA requirements

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The Verndale school board is looking for more information regarding their obligations under the Affordable Care Act.

What has been coined as “Obamacare” is expected to have a direct impact on future contract negotiations.  The ACA is expected to require all employers to provide health care to its employees working over 32 hours a week by 2014.

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“It is imperative we have as solid a number as we can to understand the budgetary impact of the new legislation,” Board Member Bill Blaha said.

Fixing the cost to the district will be an important factor in the board’s negotiations regarding future staff contracts.

On the same night they discussed the ACA requirements, the Verndale school board approved negotiation requests from the Verndale Education Association, the business manager and the 5-12 principal/district assessment coordinator.

The district negotiates two-year contracts with its staff. The new contract year begins July 1 according to Brownlow.

“It’s been a work in progress for quite a few months,” said Blaha. “Once everything gets onto solid ground so we know exactly what the financial impact will be it will help us to move forward with teacher negotiations.”

According to Brownlow, the requirements of the ACA mandates could cost the district $100,000-$150,000 more than it now has budgeted for employee insurance. The district does not provide a health care plan for its staff at this time. A recent change in contract language with faculty members obligates the district to provide a set sum of money which the faculty member can use for their own insurance.

“The teachers voted to go on their own because it’s a little cheaper,” Brownlow said.

Brownlow said additional staff members working more than 30 hours a week might also be eligible for an insurance plan under the ACA plan. Brownlow said the insurance money would have to come out of the district’s general fund. Depending on the amount of the increase, the new insurance costs may have an impact on other school programs.

The board approved shared service agreements with the Bertha-Hewitt school district. The two districts are planning to share the services of a business manager (Brian Jacobson), payroll specialist (Kim Moske) and accounts payable specialist (Charlene Orlando).

Plans for the 2013 Senior Class trip were shared with the board. Nineteen members of the Class of 2013 will be traveling to the Wisconsin Dells May 25-29.

The board also gave the green light to a band and choir trip in 2014 to New York City. The trip will take place March 24-29.

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