Ivy Tech seeking guidance on calculating lecturers’ hours under Affordable Care Act

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

By Jon Blau
331-4266 | jblau@heraldt.com

Ivy Tech Community College is still waiting for federal government guidance on how preparation time will be calculated for adjunct lecturers’ hours and what effects that could have on the college’s responsibilities to provide health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

In the meantime, demand for economics and psychology classes has forced Ivy Tech Bloomington Chancellor John Whikehart to seek exemptions for some adjuncts from system-wide rules mandating they teach no more than three classes, or nine credit hours, because prep time could have those teachers averaging 30 or more hours per week.

In the case of economics this fall, there are 22 sections, 17 of which are taught by adjuncts, with two adjuncts handling four sections each. Psychology is even more popular, requiring 48 sections and 37 adjuncts to teach them, four of those adjuncts maintaining four classes apiece.

Both psychology and economics are popular general education credits, both for students working toward associate’s degrees at the college and for transfer-bound students looking to get into Indiana University. The college’s unique relationship with IU is something that often drives class sizes; in calculus, for example, Ivy Tech sections often fill up with students from IU who take the class because its class sizes are smaller, while the coursework itself mirrors what the university offers.

Nonetheless, part-time faculty pick up a large percentage of the class load for Ivy Tech, which puts the institution in a challenging position when it comes to finding lecturers to put at the head of classrooms without a potential expansion of its health care budget.

“We still don’t know what it’s going to mean for us,” Whikehart said of the health care law.

The community college has worked around a potential mandate to cover adjunct lecturers’ health insurance, for the most part, by hiring more of them. Ivy Tech does require adjuncts to have a master’s degree, a qualification that’s easier to find in Bloomington than in Kokomo, Whikehart said, but it is hard enough to find that a few adjuncts have had to teach more than three courses.

Before the Affordable Care Act imposed a 30-hour threshold for requiring employers to provide health insurance to an employee, adjuncts were able to teach as many as six classes, Whikehart said.

He called the three-class limit a “conservative” approach, so that even if the government awards an adjunct two hours of prep time per credit hour — nine hours for class time and 18 hours for prep — that adjunct will remain at 27 hours per week.

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.