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Elmbrook Official Says 'Angst' is Causing Jump in Teacher Retirements

About two dozen teachers are seeking to retire from the Elmbrook School District, compared to 15 last year.

About two dozen Elmbrook School District teachers have asked to retire, compared to 15 last school year, an administrator says.

In recent years the number of teachers filing for retirement has been in the teens, Christine Hedstrom, assistant superintendent for human resources, said in an interview.

Prior to that, Elmbrook had some years in which 30 to 40 teachers retired in a year, she added.

But the approximately two dozen requests this winter has Hedstrom concerned that some teachers are asking to retire not because they really want to do so but because they are fearful of their future.

"Right now there is a lot of angst," Hedstrom said. "People are afraid of the unknown, afraid that the district will wipe out everything or just cause major devastation. There's is fear the district will fire the most expensive teachers. There really isn't any basis for that type of fear.

"The Board of Education's goal has always been to align expenses with revenues," she said.

Hedstrom said she is trying to calm staff anxiety. And she said she hopes teachers "don't make an emotional decision that they can't go back on. Once the board approves a (retirement) benefit for you, it can't be rescinded."

The School Board approved a dozen retirements at recent meetings and has nine more on its agenda tonight. Hedstrom said there were others pending for a future meeting. 

Andy Smith March 09, 2011 at 02:27 AM
The Elmbrook Board of Education approved a dozen retirement requests at its last meeting and will approve nine more Tuesday evening the 8th. The years of service of those on the agenda Tuesday are, in ascending order, 17, 21, 27, 34, another at 34, 35, 36, 41 and 42 years. In total this year, about two dozen have requested retirement. Is this "angst" about the potential changes in future public employee benefits and pay raise limits? Logic would dictate that the answer is "NO" if in some past years-- when no such proposals were being considered-- 30 to 40 teachers would request retirement. I suspect that those retiring this year, judging by their years of gainful employment with the district, have decided to begin enjoying what we all try to work toward-- our retirement years. They are fortunate to have had such a generous retirement and benefits package, allowing them-- with relatively insignificant out-of-pocket costs compared to most employed-- more disposable income each paycheck to supplement those perks further if they wished. I thank them for their service, applaud their length of time in their positions, acknowledge and am grateful for the contributions they have made to education and individual children's lives, and wish them well. If some may truly be considering retirement now because they're being asked to pay a bit less than 6% toward their own retirement, and about 15% of their own health insurance premiums, then go, please. Thank you for your service; go.
ngunsdngonedy March 09, 2011 at 03:54 PM
Andy, Please note: Your statement is flawed. Retirees receive the same health benefit plan based on their district contract. Since all teachers would be subject to your 15% healthcare contribution, so would the retirees. The issue of many "older" teachers chosing retirement stems from the uncertainty of their employment and potential legislative moves. Without collective bargining rights, a district can simply cut employees based on salary. I have worked for a private sector company, and the 10% quarterly drill left most of the experienced, dedicated employees out the door. The budget repair bill is just the tip of the iceberg. Collective bargining, the financial flaw in the voucher program, the new a la carte insurance bill, etc........ Could the retirement trust fund be next?
Andy Smith March 09, 2011 at 04:43 PM
Oh, flawed you say? Hmm, so public retirees would be subject to the same imaginary 15% . . . I'd like you to talk to a large group of elderly I know who -- in their 80s -- are working full-and-part time jobs to pay for their healthcare costs. One person I know is doing this after two heart attacks and another after a stroke. What they wouldn't give to get their healthcare for 15% of what they were paid way back when. There is no justification for the situation as it exists, and you'll have a hard time convincing those working in the real world that we need to be sympathetic toward and supportive of people who don't seem to give a damn about anybody but themselves.
ngunsdngonedy March 09, 2011 at 05:59 PM
Well, Andy. You stated they were going to retire to avoid the 15%. Not true. Now you get nasty and state they do not care about anyone but themselves? Each retiree will pay the 15 % you stated each year of their retirement. If the contract next year calls for 30% then they will pay that, and Medicare would be primary. I worked in the private sector, I chose to take a far lower compensation for better health and retirement benefits . In your message, you showed respect, but were bitter IF they were leaving to avoid the costs. I simply pointed out that it wasn't a financial factor in their decision.
Andy Smith March 09, 2011 at 10:18 PM
You can't walk both sides of that line. You state that every retiree, in their retirement, will pay 15% under the Governor's proposal toward their health care costs. Then you state that if a contract next year doubles that to 30%, they will pay 30%. And then, you say that retiring now, under better contract terms, is not a factor in their decision to do so. Then why make the case that you did? What I said was that the Elmbrook School District in some years has seen 30-40 retirees under the existing terms, so having two dozen or so retire so far this year cannot be attributed to an as-yet unapproved future requirement that teachers help pay their freight. And, I expressed disappointment and more than a little disgust if that were truly their reason for retiring now. I thanked all teachers for their service, and said other supportive things, but I will not support greed. You didn't have anything at all to say about the people I know in their 80s, having survived heart attacks and strokes, who now work full-and-part time jobs to be able to afford health care . . . what would you have retired teachers pay toward their health care, in retirement? If not 15%, then 12? If not 12%, then 10? If not 10%, then 5? Or would you like the status quo to continue-- a deal profoundly better than most anyone else working or retired? Where are we misunderstanding each other? I support public education VERY STRONGLY and I'm willing to listen. But, I am repulsed by greed paid for by others.
ngunsdngonedy March 10, 2011 at 02:55 PM
Let me simplify this for you. Example: Elmbrook Schools (I think you know this district) negotiates a contract, based on this new law that states for 2011, teachers will pay 15% towards their healthcare premiums. Then all retirees, even if they retired, let's say, in 2000, will also pay 15% of their premiums for 2011. IF, in 2012 Elmbrook offers healthcare, but having teachers contribute 30% of premiums, all retirees will have to pay 30% for 2012. Retirees healthcare benefits are tied to the current agreement between the District and the working teachers and employees. If, in 2022, the agreement would be teachers paying 210% of premiums, the retirees would have the option to pay 210% of their premiums, since the teachers would not be able to negotiate because their collective bargining rights have been stripped, Maybe the district could make healthcare mandatory as a condition of employment, using the the additional profit to build new gyms. So, to further help you understand, Teacher options 2011: A )Do Not Retire: Healthcare responisbility: 15% B)Same teacher retires: Healthcare responsibility: 15% Healthcare Savings to teacher for retiring early : A - B = C C = teacher savings 15% - 15% = ZERO I will refrain from commenting on your taunt on your friends in their 80s. My father is 87, had 2 sets of 5 bipasses, and a stroke. He lived within his means. does not need to work, and lives with my Mom in their home
Andy Smith March 10, 2011 at 03:03 PM
So, as I thought, you want teachers, working or retired, to continue to pay 0% for their healthcare. Must be easy to live within one's means with that kind of deal, no matter your age.
ngunsdngonedy March 10, 2011 at 03:09 PM
Can you read? There is no difference if they retire or not. Retirees WILL PAY WHATEVER A WORKING TEACHER PAYS. Please read, and be reasonable.
Andy Smith March 10, 2011 at 03:19 PM
No law has passed and been signed into law, much less enacted that requires teachers to pay 15% for their health care. You state 15% as if it is present fact. I understand that whatever the teacher pays, the retiree pays. I have read both your words and I have read between the lines; as always I am willing to listen and I believe that I am being reasonable . . . I'm certainly trying. Would you agree that the mob that took over the State Capitol last week, and again last night, and now this morning (threatening to shut down our government and not allow Assembly action) are despicable and unreasonable?

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