U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), a former U.S. Secretary of Education, today said that as school starts back up in 2014, Obamacare is forcing cuts in hours for employees, such as substitute teachers, in at least 11 Tennessee school districts "and likely many more," harming students' education in the process.
"Individuals, families and businesses aren't the only ones facing financial challenges because of Obamacare -- Tennessee schools are also being hit hard by higher health insurance costs that are forcing districts to cut jobs or hours," Alexander, the senior Republican on the Senate education committee, said. "Obamacare has forced schools to save costs with more part-time employees, from substitute teachers to coaches to custodial and administrative staff."
A major driver of school districts' problems, Alexander said, is an Obamacare mandate requiring employers to provide more expensive health insurance to anyone working 30 hours or more per week. As a result, many districts are being forced to employ more part-time workers, and to keep their hours low, to save on costs.
Alexander said, "Schools should be free to make decisions based on what will help students learn what they need to know, not on how to cope with Obamacare's burdensome and expensive mandates." School districts reporting fiscal challenges because of Obamacare include: Carter County, Clarksville, Franklin Special School District, Johnson City, Maury County, Oneida Special School District, Rutherford County, Scott County, Stewart County, Washington County and Wilson County.
Maury County Schools, south of Nashville, for example, is limiting its substitute teachers to no more than 28 hours per week. One school board member told the local news: "Students struggle enough having one substitute teacher, but then now we're going to have to possibly split the substitute time between two substitute teachers. It just makes it hard on the students to learn."