2010-04-22 / Front Page

Forbes Asks Legislators For Pension Reform

District’s pension payments to skyrocket
By Jean Snyder STAFF WRITER

Last Monday evening, the Forbes Road school board members adopted a resolution asking the state Legislature to take action on school employee pension reform.

According to the proposed resolution, Forbes Road board members want a reduction in the rate increases the district is mandated to pay to the Pennsylvania Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) over the next four years.

According to the resolution, the district’s payment to PSERS is expected to increase from nearly $101,281 this year to $848,521 by the 2014-15 school year.

The increase the Forbes board is facing is being experienced by each of the state’s 501 school districts. A bubble in the number of teachers expected to retire in the next decade and a 30 percent drop in the total value of the fund’s assets last year in the slow economy means districts will be required to contribute more to the teachers’ retirement fund.

PSERS is funded through three sources: contributions from employees (members), the employer contribution rate which is contributions from employers (generally school districts) and the commonwealth, and investment returns from the system. According to the PSERS Web site, the total employer contributions (the school districts) are projected to jump from 4.78 percent in the 09/10 school year to 8.22 percent in the 10/11 year (72 percent). In a 10-year projection chart, it is estimated that employer contributions will need to steadily rise in the next four years, reaching a peak of 33.60 percent in the 2014-2015 school year. The employer contribution rate is projected to remain over 30 percent until the year 2020; over 25 percent until the year 2027 and over 20 percent until the year 2032 unless legislative action is taken.

Because the employer contribution rate-setting methodology is set forth in statute, the resolution is asking for legislative action to provide relief to the district. The resolution asks the General Assembly to change the option of allowing annuitants to withdraw 100 percent of their contribution upon retirement to some lesser fixed amount; increase the vesting period from five years to 10 years; reduce the 2.5 percent multiplier to 2 percent for new employees; and establish minimum contribution rates to protect future assets.

Also during Monday evening’s regular meeting, the board heard updates from the AVTS and noted that next year, Forbes will have the role of superintendent of-record.

Christina Ramsey, high school principal, announced that the school’s junior-senior high school musical “Grease” show dates are May 7 and 8. It was also announced that the school’s first PTO meeting was held last Thursday with nine parents in attendance.

In addition to the approval of the PSERS resolution, other financial matters discussed and approved included the 2010-2011 Tuscarora Intermediate Unit’s general operating budget and the approval of the school milk-container recycling program

Another motion to raise milk prices for the 2010-2011 school year from 25 cents per carton to 30 cents and to raise meal prices by 25 cents passed on a 6-2 vote, with Chanin Rotz Mountz and Kirby Shoemaker casting “no” votes.

It was also announced that health insurance rates will go up by 35 percent for the 2010-2011 school year.

Another motion approved the revised baseball fence quote from $2,800 to $3,200. The new quote includes the take-down fence across center field to right field.

The following field trips were approved: NHS, physics and EAP students to Hershey Park; secondgrade class to Lincoln Caverns; third- and fourth-grade classes to Lake Tobias at Halifax; fifth grade to Heinz Field and the Duquesne Incline Plane in Pittsburgh; sixth grade to Washington, D.C.; FFA to Raystown Lake Enviro Center; and Jeremy Hollinshead was given approval to take five seventhgrade students to participate in a junior high track and field meet at Tussey Mountain on May 15.

Two and one-half Act 80 days were added to the 2009-10 calendar on April 19 and May 12 for curriculum and professional development.

During a personnel discussion, the board accepted the resignations of Kara Truax as elementary girls basketball coach, Brandi Robertson as junior high girls basketball coach for the 2010-2011 season, Samantha Conner as assistant junior high girls basketball coach for the 2010-2011 season and Eric Cromer as representative for the parks and rec board.

During miscellaneous business, the board approved the 2010-2011 school calendar as presented; approved homebound instruction for a high school student; and approved a Manito agreement regarding services to the elementary schools for a maximum of nine hours of service.

The board approved school use for the following requests: Carol Cline for use of the field hockey field for a hockey camp and open field hockey on Wednesday nights; PIAA basketball officials for officials meetings from October to February; PTO for use of the cafeteria/ kitchen for a fundraiser on May 7 and 8 prior to the musical; and Kevin Bricker for use of the soccer field for AYSO home soccer games from April 17-June 12.

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