Well, we didn't ...
Board Chairwoman Evan Garamendi is calling for termination of the program, which buys annuities for qualifying district managers. Yet after an hour of discussion, only one other trustee had expressed lukewarm support for ending the practice.
Garamendi, who formerly worked as a teacher, said she opposes providing top district staff an extra benefit when other people are being laid off.
"With all the budget cuts we are talking, we have to take a look at this," Garamendi said.
Thirty district employees, generally school principals and central office administrators, are eligible for the annuity program. Those with at least 10 years in management or confidential positions get an annuity income equal to 2 percent of their final year of salary multiplied by their years of service up to 16 years.
That means those who qualify for the benefit could receive an income for life of up to 32 percent of their final year's salary.
The district purchases the annuity or allows the employee to cash out with a lump-sum payment at retirement. That means that rather than putting aside money for the program each year, the district simply dips into the general fund to pay the cost at the time of eligible retirements.
In the fiscal year that ended June 30, the district spent $68,000 to provide the annuities to three confidential or management employees who retired, Garamendi said.
Superintendent Mark Campbell said it is impossible to know when eligible employees will retire. But he estimated five or six might retire in the next five years, which might cost the district about $25,000 a year on average.
Trustee Hank Nagle also expressed support for eliminating the benefit. "Maybe we should at least put a suspension on it," Nagle said.
In addition to considering the dollar cost of the benefit, trustees indicated they are also weighing whether it is fair - both to staffers who don't get it and to the top administrators.
Trustee John Yerman seemed sympathetic to the idea that administrators merit the benefit because they have a higher level of responsibility, including being on call 24 hours a day in the event of emergencies.
"You're talking about responsibilities for a lot of kids and employees," Yerman said.
Meanwhile, district officials are seeking to negotiate concessions from employee unions, including furlough days. The perception that managers get something extra is already disrupting relations between the district and one union.
California School Employees Association Chapter 405 filed a grievance Tuesday against the district, calling on officials to provide the same annuity benefit to union members.
Terri Henderson, vice president of Chapter 405, noted that the annuity comes on top of the California Public Employees Retirement System pension available to all qualifying district employees.
"They already have that system," Henderson said of administrators.
Contact reporter Dana M. Nichols at (209) 607-1361 firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his blog at recordnet.com/calaverasblog.
Record Staff Writer
September 09, 2010 12:00 AM