OKLAHOMA CITY (April 30, 2014) — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi is urging state lawmakers to approve a $6.5 million supplemental budget appropriation to the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) to fund its Flexible Benefits Allowance (FBA) this fiscal year.
OSDE first asked for the request in February. The additional funding is necessary because of a sharp increase in the number of full-time school employees added to school district health care plans. School districts are required to offer health insurance for employees who work on average at least 30 hours per week.
The FBA provides funding to districts to cover the cost of insuring eligible certified and support personnel. Based on data certified Jan. 1, districts have added more than 1,300 employees eligible for state-funded insurance since January 2013.
“The state is obligated to fund the FBA, ” Barresi said. “For every month that the Legislature does not fund this obligation, Oklahoma school districts are forced to shift critically needed dollars from classrooms and other essential services.”
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 $437 million for FY2015.