Continuing with his commitment to ensuring a stronger educational system in Anne Arundel County, County Executive Steve Schuh has announced a $5 million plan to keep Anne Arundel County Public School’s (AACPS) health care benefits fund solvent, avoiding possible teacher furloughs between now and June.

“As we work with the school system and the state of Maryland to address the structural deficit in AACPS’s health care benefits fund, this investment will ensure the fund can keep paying claims and ensure the AACPS can avoid teacher furloughs during the current fiscal year, which ends July 1,” said Schuh. “We committed last June to doing what we could to assist the school system if needed, and this is the next piece in a multi-step plan to ensure we can fix the school health care funding crisis once and for all.”

“We knew a year ago that restoring structural stability to our health care fund would be a complex process,” Board of Education President Stacy Korbelak said. “We did not get here on our own, nor can we fix this issue alone. In addition to our successful efforts to renegotiate our contract with our insurance provider, we need and value the persistent collaboration between the school system, our unions, the county executive, and the county council to ensure a healthy self-insured fund going forward.”

Last year, Schuh and the school system requested — and the Maryland State Department of Education and the county council approved — a plan to invest $10 million in non-recurring funds in fiscal 2017 to help ensure the school system’s health care fund remained solvent.

The plan also involved the county and AACPS agreeing to treat various one-time costs as designated outside Maryland’s Maintenance of Effort (MOE) Requirement, a practice routinely used by other jurisdictions around the state. The Maryland State Board of Education approved Anne Arundel County’s MOE waiver in April 2016, and the county council approved the plan in its final budget adoption in June 2016.

The county and AACPS are working with the state to enact a multi-year plan to address the health care fund crisis in the fiscal 2018 and fiscal 2019 budgets. The county executive’s $5 million fund transfer legislation is expected to be submitted to the county council in May.