FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - Fort Wayne Community Schools is cutting hours for hundreds of part-time employees such as teacher assistants and cafeteria workers. Leaders at the district say the Affordable Care Act is partly to blame.
On Friday, principals notified affected employees of the changes. They work six-hour days for a 30-hour work week. Starting on June 3, the last week of the school year, most of the employees affected will drop down to a 25-hour work week.
"It's not what we would have liked to have done," said Kathy Friend, chief financial officer with FWCS. "Reducing hours is not good for the employees, but it is also not good for the schools who depend on their support. But we had to do it."
In all, Friend said there are about 840 FWCS employees working 30 hours a week. Beginning in January of 2014, President Obama's Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide a health care option to anyone working 30 hours a week or more. Adding that new eligibility to its part-time employees, which currently are not eligible for health care, would cost FWCS about $10 million.
That's money Friend said is out of the question. FWCS, the largest school corporation in Indiana, is already working through a budget shortfall.
"It's projected that we're going to have less money in 2015 then we're going to have in 2013 because of the most recent budget passed by the state," Friend explained. "So because of budget reasons and because the Affordable Care Act provisions, which would have required us to add even more to the budget, we had to take a look at everyone's hours and determine if we could make adjustments."
Of the about 840 part-time employees, about 610 will have hours cut. FWCS will give the remaining 230 employees the new health care option.
"Even though we've somewhat solved this problem by cutting hours for employees, the 200 plus that become eligible in January are still a $2 million impact to the budget," Friend said. "So it's still a budgetary issue to us."
Friend testified to the IRS on this topic in April. She said the schools initially thought the Affordable Care Act would average out a 52-hour work year. That way, school districts would be in the clear since teachers don't work summers. Friend said they later learned that wasn't the case.
The final regulations for the Affordable Care Act still are not clear.
Friend said this isn't just an issue in FWCS, but every school district in the country will have to figure out how to pay for health care for those part-time employees.
One frustrated FWCS employee alerted NewsChannel 15 of the hour cuts via the Report!t feature on WANE.com .
Three U.S. legislators representing northeast Indiana had the following comments about FWCS cutting part-time hours:
"This is just another example of how Obamacare hurts Hoosiers and must be repealed. Here in Fort Wayne and around the State, teachers, families, and small businesses are struggling under the weight of Obamacare's regulations. Our schools should be focused on educating our children, not complying with the IRS' regulatory mess."
-U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman
"Senator Donnelly has heard from Hoosiers rightfully concerned about this issue, and he is looking at ways to address it in a way that works for both employers who are concerned about costs and workers who are concerned about their hours—and therefore wages—getting cut."
Communications Director for Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
Representatives for Senator Dan Coats (R-IN) responded with a video of Coats talking about "Obamacare"
An Indiana teenager honored for helping save two children from icy waters in 2010 has died in a weekend shooting.
Police are looking for a white man who is 6'0" to 6'2" with a thin build they say robbed a CVS in November. He may have been driving a gray or dark green Ford SUV.
Police from several agencies have responded to multiple crashes overnight due to slick roads from a wintry mix that moved through the area late Sunday and early Monday morning.
A rural Angola man faces six felony charges for allegedly sexually assaulting a 26-year-old woman.
A local family wants help in making sure their loved one's murderer stays in prison.
Police said a man barricaded himself inside of a home on Genessee Avenue early Sunday morning for more than two hours after threatening to commit suicide.
Detectives believe a three-year-old boy may have shot himself at a home in Indianapolis Saturday night. Police said the shooting appears to have been accidental.
There will be several holiday-themed events this weekend in the Fort Wayne area, including Christmas displays, children’s parties, visits from Santa Claus, and more.
The 122nd Fighter Wing hosted the annual Airman of the Year Awards on Saturday afternoon to celebrate the achievements of members of the 122nd.
Saturday marked the 72nd anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. Fort Wayne area veterans and their families met for a service at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum to remember those who lost their lives back on December 7, 1941.
A doctor who performs abortions in Fort Wayne, Gary and South Bend has been asked to appear before the Indiana Medical Licensing Board.
Each year, students at Taylor University attend a men's basketball game and are completely silent until the Trojans score their 10th point of the game. The game is known as "Silent Night."
Governor Mike Pence is directing flags at Indiana state facilities be flown at half-staff on Saturday, Dec. 7 in honor of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
A national campaign wants the NFL's Washington Redskins to change its name to not be offensive to Native Americans, and it could effect teams across the country.
The Lilly Endowment Inc. has given more than $62 million to 39 Indiana colleges and universities to increase employment opportunities for college graduates. receive