The Little Rock School District is on the verge of a new contract that would fully fund employee health care.
But in most districts, teachers have to pay hundreds of dollars a month for care, and there are many who go without.
A legislative subcommittee tackled the issue Wednesday afternoon, and several people say good teachers are leaving Arkansas classrooms because they can't afford health care.
The state pays nearly $400 for an employee's insurance every month, which is enough for full coverage; but by law, districts only have to pay $130 per employee, or one-third of what state employees get.
Several districts pay more as a recruiting tool, like LRSD, but most rural districts pay the state minimum, leaving employees to pay hundreds for coverage.
"We are literally, the cost of healthcare is driving education professionals, who have experience, out of the profession. It is astronomical, and they cannot afford to insure themselves or their families, on the state minimum," says Little Rock Education Association President Cathy Koehler.
One thing that's not clear is where the money would come from. One teacher's advocate says districts could pay more by trying to pass a millage or making insurance a priority.
In some rural communities it's gotten so bad that health insurance is more than some employees make, and they end up writing the district a check every month to pay the difference.