State Department of Education agrees to $22 million bailout for AACPS healthcare fund

| April 26, 2017
Rams Head

Continuing with their ongoing commitment to ensure Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) can provide outstanding healthcare and other benefits to teachers and other school system employees, County Executive Steve Schuh, Councilman Chris Trumbauer, Superintendent George Arlotto, and School Board President Stacy Korbelak have announced that the Maryland State Department of Education has approved a funding framework that provides solvency to the AACPS Health Insurance Fund.

“This agreement will help the school system address its critical health benefits fund problem and ensure our teachers will continue to have excellent healthcare coverage,” said Schuh. “The County Administration, the Board of Education, the Superintendent, and the County Council have all come together to address this crisis, but a long-term solution still requires shared sacrifice by all parties, including the bargaining units.”

The approved plan includes $15 million to keep the health benefits fund solvent through the upcoming fiscal year. The plan also includes $7.5 million in one-time funding to AACPS to help mitigate the impact of any negotiated increases in premiums for the county’s nearly 6,000 teachers and other school system employees.

This funding is in addition to the $5 million that will be provided to the school system in the current fiscal year to help fix the healthcare fund shortage. Schuh announced that initiative on March 30th.

This is a responsible, good-faith effort to close the health insurance fund gap,” said Councilmember Trumbauer. “Working collaboratively and bringing parties together is the best way to find solutions to big problems. This is the first step of a multiyear plan that will require further actions, but I am encouraged.”

“We are certainly thankful to MSDE, to the County Executive, and to the County Council for their continued work with us to bridge the significant gap in our healthcare fund,” Board President Stacy Korbelak said. “Putting this fund back on solid footing is critical to the long-term success of our school system and our ability to continue to provide a quality education for the 81,000 students entrusted to us every day.”

“A year ago, Mr. Schuh and the Council committed to assist us if needed as we sought to remedy this crisis, and we are deeply appreciative of their ongoing partnership,” Superintendent George Arlotto said. “We have done everything in our power to help make up the shortfall, but this is an issue that is bigger than our school system alone.”

The exact nature of the premium increase offset will be determined through discussions between AACPS and its bargaining units as the school system effects changes in health plans that more closely align employee benefits with those of Anne Arundel County Government and other school jurisdictions across the state.

The County Executive will formally include the funding agreement in his FY 2018 budget on May 1st. The proposal is subject to County Council approval.

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