Carroll County Schools may outsource its substitute teachers next school year.
In an information item presented to the board of education in a work session Monday night, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Christi Teal outlined the potential costs, benefits and drawbacks of outsourcing the service to a private-sector firm.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act created a new definition of a school employee, changing that definition to anyone who works 30 hours per week and giving those individuals the right to health benefits.
“That’s a problem for us, with our long-term subs and subs who continually serve who rack up 30 hours per week easily,” Teal said. “So we were faced with the problem of either paying for their insurance, paying the penalty or outsourcing. There’s so many positives to outsourcing.”
Next year’s substitute teacher budget will either be for substitute outsourcing — projected to be around $89,000, according to the current budget framework — or for adding health benefits for long-term and continuous subs.
Substitutes would be paid the same by the outsourcing company as they are by the school district, Teal said.
“And they would receive benefits, from the company,” she said. “That’s one of things we’re most excited about.”
The assistant superintendent reached out to principals, she said, asking for input on the potential change, which will have to be made before the next school year.
“Principals think this system will be more effective and efficient, will save subs from receiving multiple calls and like that subs will get benefits now,” she said. “They have concerns about the autonomy or control they’ll have to give up with the new company, whether or not they’ll be able to have the subs they prefer in their classrooms and whether it will be easier for people to be absent because it will be easier to find a sub.”
Addressing that last concern, Teal said she’d spoken with nearby systems that have outsourced substitutes, finding that there is an initial spike in teacher absenteeism but that the increase quickly dies down and actually dips below the pre-outsourced rate.
The next steps for the potential change are to determine the budgetary impact outsourcing would have, choosing a vendor and communicating with schools, Teal said.
“There’s so many positives,” she said. “Just on a personal note, in our office, it will free us up to work on other things a lot. And each school has a secretary who is on sub duty who has to find subs. That secretary will be able to reallocate her time to other tasks, rather than finding a substitute.”
The process, currently done over the phone with a substitute list, would be done online, the assistant superintendent said. A teacher who needs to be absent can access the database of substitutes, seeing if a particular substitute is busy or booked on that particular day and choosing an available substitute.
The board asked Teal to report back on the budget impact outsourcing would have as soon as possible, hoping to make a decision on the change soon.
Also during Monday night’s meeting:
• The BOE may tentatively adopt the system’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget at its next work session in May.
Chief Financial Office James Fulford expects to have a proposed budget prepared for next month’s meeting, reflecting a $75,000 surplus, even though the system has added back two instructional days to its calendar for next year.
A public hearing has been tentatively set for May 12, a work session. Another public hearing will take place in the June work session.
Action may be taken at that meeting, on June 16.
Fulford projected ending this year at $10.1 million in the system’s fund equity, or reserves, at the end of the year. That number will reportedly be higher, according to Fulford’s projection — around $11.7 million at the end of the current school year.
The system projects total revenues of $106.8 million for FY15 and expenditures of $106.7 million, resulting in surplus budget of $75,000.
• Fulford also reported on the system’s financials for the month of March. Total monthly revenues were $8.11 million, up from $7.17 million in March 2013, a 13 percent increase.
Expenditures for March were up as well, though: by 3.7 percent, at $8.47 million for last month compared to $8.16 million in March 2013.
The system received $988,000 in SPLOST revenues for March, a 7.8 percent decrease over last March. The district has received $700,000 less in local tax collection this year compared to last year because of a lag in the tax collection rate, Fulford said.
• Assistant Superintendent David Goldberg updated the board on several ongoing construction projects in the county, including the upcoming Performing Arts Center and north-end campus of the College and Career Academy.
The system is still working on plans with architects at Southern A&E for the two projects, for which the board expects to have preliminary drawings in May.
Goldberg said he’s met several times with the PAC steering committee and CCA administrators, as well as Tanner Medical Center/Villa Rica for their respective projects, folding in their recommendations to the current preliminary drawings.
“We’re moving right along, and we’re happy with the direction we’re headed in and the pace we’re keeping,” Goldberg said.
The Villa Rica Elementary project, in which a new gymnasium and converted administration area and media center are being built, is making progress.
Staff members moved into the new administrative suite over spring break, and demolition of the old administrative area is taking place now to make room for the new media center.
Structural steel has been erected for the new gymnasium, music and art rooms, and masons are ready to begin installing the brick and block work.
The Bowdon Elementary project, in which a new gymnasium and six classrooms are being built, is also making strides, Goldberg said.
“This is one of the few projects that actually hasn’t been that affected by the rainy weather we’ve had so far this year,” the assistant superintendent said. “Brick masons are nearing completion, and ceiling grids are being put in now, along with windows and doors.”
The project is expected to conclude sometime during the summer months.
The board will reconvene for its next meeting on Thursday at 7 p.m.