Over the next four years, rising health insurance costs for non-teachers may cost the Jackson County School System more than $2.06 million and the Jefferson City School System more than $547,100, according to officials.
That’s already following other health insurance increases over the past two fiscal years for non-certified employees — such as bus drivers, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers and custodians.
The Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) is increasing health insurance costs of non-certified employees to local school systems because the agency is using reserves to cover employee claims, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
During the 2010 fiscal year, school systems paid $162 per month for non-certified employees for health coverage. By the end of the 2011 fiscal year, that figure had risen to $246 and now (in the 2012 fiscal year) it stands at $296 per month for each non-certified employee. At the start of the 2013 fiscal year this July, school systems will pay $446 a month per a non-certified employee in health coverage costs, followed by $596 for the 2014 fiscal year and $746 for the 2015 fiscal year.
By then, the county school system is projected to have paid an additional $2.06 million in health insurance costs for those employees. The Jefferson City School System is slated to spend an extra $547,100 during that time.
John Jackson, superintendent of the Jefferson City School System, said the situation creates three possible solutions — additional cuts by the district, dipping into reserve funds or increasing local property taxes. The answer may also be a mixture of those possibilities, he said.
But the latest news comes after school systems across Georgia have had to deal with decreasing state and local revenues — leading to layoffs, furloughs and trimming programs or supplies costs for many districts.
“Of course, we’ve been in that mode for so long,” Jackson said of possible additional budget cuts.
The Jefferson City School System’s reserves continue to shrink each year that the district has faced reduced revenues, he added. A one mill property tax increase would generate an additional $440,000 for the district.
One possible option — which Jackson says that he doesn’t want to do — is a switch in health insurance coverage for non-certified employees.
“That is something that has been batted around,” he said.
Shannon Adams, superintendent of the Jackson County School System, said the district may have to consider restoring some furlough days — also called calendar reduction days — next school year.
The Jackson County Board of Education adopted its 2012-2013 school year calendar last month without any proposed furlough days. That calendar is the first in at least two years that doesn’t include furlough days for employees. Jackson said that while the rising health insurance costs will likely be passed on to local school districts for the 2013 fiscal year, he’s hopeful that the subsequent years may have some financial relief for districts.
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