A proposal to have an outside organization coordinate substitute teacher services was discussed during the Warren County School District board's Personnel/Athletics and Co-Curricular Committee meeting on Monday.
"It wasn't too long ago that we went through the cuts from the governor's budget, (we) could not afford to do Kelly (Educational) Services any longer," said Director of Administrative Support Services Amy Stewart. "At the time we had Kelly Educational Staffing, our PSERS (state retirement system) contribution was significantly less than it is today."
Kelly would actually hire the district's substitutes and coordinate what substitutes go where, and did so for several years before ultimately being a budget casualty.
Stewart explained that a provision of the Affordable Care Act includes "requirements on how many hours that people work during the week."
The cap limits employees to a 30-hour work week before the "district would be responsible for picking up (health care) for those folks," said Stewart.
Stewart explained that the district has done some "preliminary number crunching" and determined that "Kelly is the only game in town that is willing to meet all of our needs. We were happy with their services in the past (but) couldn't afford it."
Challenges persist if the district continues to run the program.
While the ACA provisions would not hamper the district for day-to-day substitutes, much longer-term substitute positions would be affected as it would be harder for a teacher in a longer-term post to maintain less than 30 hours each week.
"We have a definition of a long-term sub that is contractual," said Stewart, indicating that the time period is 90 days, or one semester. "When they work for us one semester, they go from being a substitute to being covered by the (Warren County Education Association) contract. We have a lot of people that, for one reason or another, have to be out for" several weeks (and) "don't qualify for a long-term sub. But to a child in that classroom, that is pretty long-term."
That leaves the district in a position of having to balance those several week teaching positions with the 30-hour limit contained in the ACA if they elected to continue to manage and coordinate substitute needs in house.
Stewart suggested that the district "would have five to six that we work with regularly and (would have to) take a hit on the medical. That is part of the equation we are working on."
"If we kept them as district employees, we would have a hard time looking at principals saying that a substitute has to be off (due to the hours limit). That would be a very difficult thing to do," she added.
Board member Jack Werner asked if a Kelly Services contract avoids the dilemma regarding longer-term positions that don't meet the level of a long-term sub.
"Yes, they would be Kelly employees," said Stewart. "We never had any issues (when) we had them the years before. They work how we want things filled. Our biggest stressor administratively will be then to manage how often subs are called."
Of the 30-hour cap, Business Manager Jim Grosch said, "If you fell into the penalty phase, the struggle is, as many hours and days that are needed, we would probably have to put a full-time person on to track this.... The penalties are outrageous."
He estimated the district's penalty at between $1.2 million and $1.4 million.
"We have implemented a Kelly Services contract before," said Stewart. "We learned from what we implemented last time."
One of those lessons is that, if ultimately approved, Kelly substitutes won't start at the beginning of next school year. The beginning of the year is a "rough time" for such a change, she said. She proposed starting the contract with the beginning of next year's spring semester.
She said the annual cost of bringing Kelly Services back on board would be in the $50,000 to $60,000 range.