Austin ISD plans to extend its health insurance benefits to domestic partners starting in the 2013–14 school year, Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said March 26.
Carstarphen said she estimates the Sept. 1 change to insurance benefits will cost the district about $600,000. That amount would need to be approved this summer as part of the district's budget.
The announcement comes after Pflugerville ISD became the first school district in the state to offer domestic partner benefits. The PISD board of trustees voted 5-1 at its Dec. 13 meeting to uphold a new district insurance plan offering employees the opportunity to cover domestic partners.
AISD has not yet taken action on approving the change as part of its budget, but the district has been discussing expanding the insurance as part of its preliminary budget process since September 2012. An estimated 300 to 400 employees are expected to take advantage of the benefits once they are in place, based on other entities that are similar in size, according to a district spokesperson.
AISD's move to provide benefits to domestic partners also comes at the same time as U.S. Supreme Court justices debate California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state.