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State Department of Education seeking $6.5 million in supplemental funding

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Due to the sharply rising cost of providing healthcare coverage for school employees, the Oklahoma State Department of Education is requesting a supplemental budget appropriation of $6,540,794 to fully fund its Flexible Benefits Allowance in the current fiscal year.

The FBA provides funding to districts to cover the cost of insuring full-time staff and support personnel. Based on data certified Jan. 1, school districts have added more than 1,300 employees eligible for state-funded insurance since October 2012.

“The state is obligated to fund the FBA. As a result, that will mean less money dedicated to the school funding formula,” said state Superintendent Janet Barresi. “An increase in funding would ensure Oklahoma can fulfill its obligation.”

In October of last year, the State Board of Education approved a request of $426.9 million for the FBA in FY2015, a $59 million increase over the original FY2014 amount.

OSDE currently projects an FBA budget request of more than $438 million for FY2015.

The increase in cost is due in part to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Under ACA, school districts are required to offer health insurance for employees who work on average at least 30 hours per week.

OSDE believes a number of districts are migrating workers from part-time to full-time status in order to comply with the new healthcare law and avoid paying penalties.

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