Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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BR schools cut hours to avoid insurance fines

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BATON ROUGE - Teachers are missing from classrooms across the Baton Rouge area and fingers are pointed at Washington D.C. for the short supply.

Under the Affordable Care Act, business that employ more than 50 full-time workers must provide health insurance for them. Full-time workers are defined under the law as those working 30 or more hours a week, or 130 hours a month.

It's a cost schools don't want to pay for their substitute teachers, and avoiding this means some schools are sending subs home before they hit the limit each week in order to avoid having to give them insurance. Some EBR teachers told News 2 that as a result, the school had to call them in to cover for a sub's class after they hit their limit and were sent home.

Baton Rouge school leaders say sending teachers home mid-week causes inconsistency and can hurt children's education.

"Volatility in the classroom is not a good thing, stability is a good thing, high quality is a good thing," explains BESE President Chas Roemer. "We need to combine those two, we need to look at policies that are somehow hindering us from achieving that and one of them is the health care issue."

The school district has had to overcome teacher shortages the past several years. This year the school had around 60 open positions that needed to be filled through job fairs, forcing them to rely more on substitutes.

School leaders think the answer lies in Washington and the issue needs to be addressed by Congress. For now, State Superintendent of Education John White says districts need to keep the teachers they do have in the classroom.

"There's no quick fix," Superintendent White said. "The thing districts can do is make sure they're supporting their teachers, paying their teachers well. And if there are challenging schools they have to make sure the economic incentive is there for teachers to do that job."

The East Baton Rouge Parish school district has job fairs starting next week hoping to fill gaps in the amount of full time teachers.


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