School district eyes sub teacher temp plan

Published 11:48 am Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Lincoln County School District Board of Trustees met Monday evening to discuss the possibility of an agreement with Kelly Educational Services to provide substitute teachers and substitute assistant teachers at each of the four schools in the district.

Cheryl Shelby, the district business manager, explained the need for a change in the current system that arises from the Affordable Health Care Act. If a substitute works more than an average of 30 hours per week, the health care act requires the school district to provide health insurance for the substitute. The requirement creates a dilemma because substitutes are not eligible for state insurance and state law prohibits public money being used to pay for private insurance.

Shelby presented two options for the board: limit substitutes to less than 30 hours or to hire Kelly Educational Services. The service would be responsible for paying health insurance and all other costs associated with substitutes, which would allow the substitute teachers to work more than an average of 30 hours. However, the service would have a 35 percent increase in cost to the county beyond what the district normally pays its substitutes.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The service would benefit the county the most during long-term absences, particularly maternity leave, Shelby said. Each year, the district has several women take maternity leave, and, ideally, principals would like to keep the same substitute in the classroom during the absence. By restricting substitutes to 30 hours a week, substitutes would have to be rotated in and out during extended absences of teachers.

“The main thing is the kids’ welfare in academics but is that benefit worth $70,000,” Ricky Welch, president of the board said. “We’re looking at the dollar signs and not the benefit of the kids because we don’t know what will benefit the kids.”

The service would still allow principals to create a preference list so that the substitutes they trust can continue to work at their school, provided they meet the requirements of Kelly Education Services. It would also decrease liability for the school district and provide training to substitutes.

The board decided to table the issue until the next meeting.

“I encourage each of you to call your principals and see how big of a problem these extended absences are,” Shelby said.

Shelby also pointed out a financial matter to the board. She said the school district had to pay a $300,000 note on a 2002 bond issued by Trustmark, which, according to budget, should be covered by ad valorem tax revenue. At the time the note was due, all the taxes had not been collected, and the district loaned approximately $24,000 to the debt service account to make up the difference. Ad valorem taxes are expected to come in around $347,000. As the remaining taxes come in, the debt service account will pay back the district, Shelby said, adding that because of the time of the note payment and tax due date, this loan is typical for the district.

Terry Brister, district superintendent, ended the meeting by recognizing two schools’ state champions.

“Congratulations to Bogue Chitto softball for winning the state championship, and West Lincoln has two twins who won the tennis state championship,” Brister said. “You have nothing to be ashamed of athletically or academically.”

Brister also congratulated Loyd Star, West Lincoln and Enterprise baseball teams on making it to district play-offs and Loyd Star softball for competing in 2-A district play-offs.