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Wisconsin’s Rural Schools Weigh Impact Of Affordable Care Act

Administrators Want To Know How Law Impacts Substitute Teachers, School Budgets

frankjuarez (CC-BY)

Some schools in northern Wisconsin are keeping a close eye on the number of hours that staff work and how that could relate to President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Districts are trying to balance finances with changes under the Affordable Care Act. Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials Executive Director Woody Wiedenhoeft said employers are watching whether substitute teachers would qualify for health insurance.

“Employers are having to be very careful to track hours that people are working on that 30-hour rule to make sure that their finances stay the same for that insurance scenario,” said Wiedenhoeft.

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Washburn School District administrator Tom Wiatr said schools don’t anticipate budgeting for extra insurance and rural areas like Washburn have a limited number of subs.

“You’re pulling from the same group,” Wiatr said. “So, you try to have the most competitive rates or incentives to make sure that the quality subs are working in your school district.”

Districts in northern Wisconsin are seeking clarity on when or if people qualify for benefits under the Affordable Care Act. Cooperative Educational Services Agency 12 administrator Ken Kasinski said that could have an impact on school district budgets.

“There’s some question about when would or if a person becomes eligible for that,” Kasinski said. “They may not even be. We’re still looking at and exploring that and really getting a definitive answer.”

CESA 12 represents 17 school districts in six counties, including Douglas, Bayfield and Ashland counties.