OKLAHOMA CITY (May 14, 2014) – As the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) has not yet received a supplemental appropriation for teachers’ health insurance premiums, known as the Flexible Benefit Allowance (FBA), state Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi has directed OSDE to use what remains in the schools’ activities funds to pay for the health insurance of Oklahoma’s fulltime district employees.
“This action effectively depletes available funds left in the schools’ activities fund for the current fiscal year, but we must take care of our teachers,” Barresi said. “On top of everything else, our school districts must cover health insurance for their fulltime employees. These increased costs, which are in part a consequence of Obamacare, needed to be addressed.”
The distribution of funds for FBA means that for the remainder of FY 2014 there will be a marginal reduction in funds for alternative education, Oklahoma Parents as Teachers (OPAT) program and professional development. Districts have the budgetary flexibility to move dollars to these programs, Barresi said.
Districts today are being notified of the situation, but the action is pending final approval by the State Board of Education at its May 22 meeting.
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 had an increase of more than 1,300 teachers and other fulltime employees eligible for state-funded insurance since January 2013.
FY 2014 funds for the Reading Sufficiency Act and the ACE initiative, both critical education reforms, were provided in full to school districts earlier this year.