Changes with the state’s health care plan are on hold right now, but many school leaders and advocates are hoping for the best in the years ahead.
North Carolina’s board which governs the health care plan recently made a decision to delay a cost savings plan, which includes getting rid of the “80/20 plan” a couple years from now. It allows members to pay 20 percent of health care costs up to a certain deductible. The change will effect employees, teachers and retirees.
Dr. Eric Bracy, superintendent of Sampson County Schools, is one of many school advocates concerned about the matter.
“As a superintendent who hires teachers and other employees, I am concerned about potential changes to the state health plan that would negatively impact these employees,” Bracy said.
Bracy mentioned how fewer college students are choosing teaching as a career.
“Changing the state health plan to make it more expensive with fewer benefits could force more teachers and other staff members to choose other professions or even other states,” Bracy said.
According to recent report from the Associated Press, enrollment at the 15 University of North Carolina’s schools of education has decreased by 30 percent since 2010. State education officials believe that the issue makes it difficult for districts to recruit teachers. For some years, finding math, science and special education teachers have been a challenge. It was also noted that superintendents recently had trouble hiring elementary school teachers.
State Superintendent of Public Education says pay, lack of respect and and lack of time for professional development are some of the top reasons for declining enrollment.
Another issue on the table is the exclusion of spouses from coverage, which will leave many scrambling to find other health care coverage. It’s one of several proposals made, after a decision was proposed by lawmakers with a goal to control costs for state agencies making contributions for employee expenses. Many education supporters believes it create financial hardships for teachers and other workers who receive low pay.
“We need the best and the brightest working in our schools, managing our state’s finances, and providing services that North Carolina residents utilize on a daily basis,” Bracy said. “My hope is that the state will shore up the state health plan such it will be an incentive for employees and potential employees than a deterrent.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.