Affordable Care Act:
The Federal Affordable Care Act that became law March 23, 2010, could create some additional financial expenditures for our school district. The district could face stiff penalties if it does not provide what the act defines as “affordable minimum essential coverage” to full-time employees. The act, sometimes referred to as Obamacare, includes more than 2,000 pages of legislation and 13,000 pages of regulations. The effective dates for various provisions stretch out until 2020, and “many, many” details are not yet defined.
While implementing the provisions, the school district would need to consider several definitions. They include: who is a large group employer; who is a full-time employee; what is “minimum essential coverage”; how is “affordable” defined; and when will the employer be impacted.
A large group employer is an organization that has more than 50 full-time employees. Therefore, the Eden Valley – Watkins School District #463 is considered a large group employer. A full-time employee is one that works 30 hours per week. In addition to our licensed teaching staff, this category, then, includes clerical staff, assistants, paraprofessionals, cleaners and custodians that average 30 hours per week throughout the 9 month-school year. In this case, the eligibility period for coverage is 9 months, but coverage must be for 12 months. “Minimal essential coverage” must be provided to avoid a $2,000 penalty per employee. Coverage must be offered to the employee and dependents, up to age 26, excluding a spouse. There is no penalty for the first 30 employees. To avoid the financial penalty for each employee who enrolls in a forthcoming Minnesota Public Exchange, employers must provide insurance that is “affordable” and “provides minimum value,” “Affordable” means that an employee’s share of premiums may not exceed 9.5 percent of his or her income. “Minimum value” means that at least 60 percent of the claims must be paid-out by the insurance plan.
At this point, there are more questions than answers associated with the Affordable Care Act. We’re currently working with our insurance carrier, service cooperative, and business office to calculate the potential implications, and specifically, what the financial impact will be on our 2013-14 budget, and beyond.
It is also known that effective Jan. 1, 2014, employers must treat non-unionized employees the same, or face an excise tax of $100 per day. Our school board and administration will need to make provisions to comply with this regulation. The most common strategy implemented includes “re-packaging” the salary and benefits to offer non-unionized employees similar benefits while maintaining a cost-neutral status for the school district.
I’m sure we’ll have a lot of questions and answers, research, calculations, and bargaining ahead of us as we ensure that our school district is in compliance by Jan. 1, 2014.
Severe Weather Awareness Week is April 15-19, 2013
During this important week, the Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security Emergency Management (HSEM) is asking school administrators, safety officers and faculty to review their severe weather safety procedures to ensure every school is prepared to respond.
Statewide tornado drills are scheduled for Thursday, April 18, at 1:45 p.m. and 6:55 p.m. Sirens and NOAA Weather Radios are expected to sound, so this is an excellent opportunity for all of us to practice our safety drills. This practice will provide an opportunity for parents and school-staff to explain to our children why the warning sirens are sounding and recommend strategies for an effective family emergency plan.
Why Severe Weather Awareness Week? According to the National Weather Service, Minnesota experiences an average of 40 tornadoes per year. In 2012, 37 twisters touched down. A record was set in 2010 with 104 tornadoes across the state.
Understanding this threat and knowing what to do when a tornado is approaching can save lives. Please, take advantage of Severe Weather Awareness Week to make our children aware of tornadoes and other weather-related hazards.
Snow Make-Up Day:
Because of inclement weather conditions, school was canceled on Monday, March 18. This student contact day will be made up on Monday, April 1. Please make note of this schedule change in your home calendars. Enjoy the spring weather
Senior of the Week:
The EVW School District would like to recognize Alexis Schoenecker, daughter of Jay and Heidi. Lexi demonstrates a great deal of integrity, and the ability to overcome and conquer obstacles that get in her way. She consistently displays maturity and is driven by an admired set of core values. Her sister, Kennedy considers her a positive role-model that is smart, funny, and caring. The EVW administration, faculty and staff are extremely proud of your accomplishments. Congratulations!