Archive for Thursday, November 29, 2007

District administrators discuss retirement plans

November 29, 2007

Since the age of retirement is approaching for several Baldwin School District administrators, the principals have asked for a policy to help them financially for their years of service in the district.

No official proposal was given, but the district principals discussed the idea with the Baldwin School Board at a special meeting Monday night.

Both sides had positive things to say about the idea of a retirement policy, but nothing was decided.

"It's a win-win opportunity for the district," Board Member Blaine Cone said.

Tom Mundinger, Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center principal, also said a policy would benefit the administrators and the district.

"It's a win-win for both parties," Mundinger said. "If the employee is willing to work with the district to maybe take a pay cut and restructure how they are paid, so that the district is saving money, then the individual would win, too, in that they would get their salary plus the KPERS benefits, which is collectively more than what they would be getting paid full salary."

There are four principals that are eligible to take their Kansas Public Employee Retirement System benefits. This was part of the reason for the topic being addressed.

Joe Gresnick, Baldwin Junior High School assistant principal, broke the silence about the topic Monday night. Gresnick, who was also the Baldwin High School principal for many years, said he has been trying to work on a retirement policy for several years.

"I've been asking about this for several years now," Gresnick. "I'm getting to that stage, but I want to know if the board would be receptive to the idea of a KPERS plan."

One of the main reasons Gresnick has been asking for a policy is because he would like to retire from KPERS, but remain in the Baldwin district.

"Instead of me trying to double dip and go somewhere else, I would rather stay here in this community," Gresnick said. "I like it here and want to stay here."

KPERS currently will allow any educator to retire from one district and move to another district in the state, where they can earn full salary and KPERS benefits. However, if they remain in the same district, a $20,000 cap is put on them. If they earn more than $20,000 in a calendar year, their KPERS benefits cease for the remainder of that calendar year.

This salary cap has forced many educators to retire from KPERS and then move districts. At their new district, they are receiving full salary and KPERS benefits, but it drives them away from their previous district.

"There are a lot of districts who have done this," Mundinger said. "It's all legal. It's all above board. Right now there is a legislative committee who is studying it. They are discussing the possibility of removing that $20,000 cap, because it encourages you to leave the district that you are in. However, the place you may be more valuable is the district you are already in."

The school board and the administrators both agreed that there are multiple ways of working around the $20,000 cap, which was increased from $15,000 this year.

Supt. Paul Dorathy said the school board must one day face the decision of what to do with several administrators. Some ideas that were thrown around Monday included a salary cut or extra benefits to help keep the administrators in the district if they retire from KPERS and wish to remain working in the district.

"I know some of our administrators will one day retire from our district," Dorathy said. "We will miss those administrators when that day comes.

"I think the board needs to look at this as our primary job is to do what's best for our kids," Dorathy said. "There is a shortage out there, so you have to look at the quality aspect of this, too. We have to do what's best for the quality of our students."

Mundinger said most employees usually retire completely, both from their job and KPERS, but some wish to keep working while receiving retirement benefits.

"Retiring from KPERS is different from retiring from the district," Mundinger said. "Most of the time it's the same thing and when you retire, you retire completely."

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