ARKANSAS, USA — The Arkansas State Board of Finance has approved a proposal to ensure public school teachers do not have to pay more in their insurance premiums if approved by the legislature.
“We are very happy to hear that. That is a major victory for educators,” Carol Fleming said.
The Arkansas public school insurance program was facing a $70 million shortfall starting in 2022. Still, thanks to the legislature, no educators will see hikes to their health insurance premiums come the new year.
“Over the years, educators have been paying more for their insurance while the state and the districts have been paying less, so the ones carrying the brunt of the cost are the educators, and now we are going to have some balance with that,” she said.
The Arkansas Education Association has spent the last several months talking to the Governor and legislatures about the importance of not increasing educator’s insurance premiums. President, Carol Fleming is happy the voices of educators were heard. She says this, along with the salary equalization act that will raise teacher salaries over the next two years, is good news for educators.
“Previously, the educators, they would not have seen that money because that money would have been going towards healthcare costs, but now, they are going to reap the benefit of that.”
Anna Beaulieu has been a teacher in Fayetteville for 22 years. She says the state funding their insurance program is proof behind the words that educators are important.
“Every single day, we came to school, and we made it happen. So, to me, this seems like a no-brainer, that we will make sure that our educators can be insured so that they can be in the schools with our students,” she said.
There is one change to the Arkansas public school insurance program educators will see. The $50 a month they have been getting for having a yearly wellness exam will go down to $25 a month. The Arkansas Education Association is calling on school districts to make up the difference. The plan to fully fund the Arkansas public school insurance program does need final approval from the Arkansas Legislative Council. They will meet next week.