Words have meaning UPDATED | Arkansas Blog

Monday, April 27, 2009

Words have meaning UPDATED

Posted By on Mon, Apr 27, 2009 at 6:29 AM

School Board member Jody Carreiro joins criticism of a Little Rock School District memo that announced the board's recently approved early retirement incentive. It was described  as an "early retirement insurance plan." Some board members had discussed how the $15,000 payment might ease fears about insurance costs for some potential early retirees, but it otherwise had no connection with insurance. Board member Baker Kurrus had earlier sharply objected. (UPDATE: Board President Dianne Curry has added a response in this earlier post to Kurrus' warning that the Board neets to get serious about trimming administrative costrs.)

Carreiro, who joined a 5-2 vote for the plan, nonetheless agreed in e-mail distributed to all board members with dissenter Kurrus' criticism of the description distributed by the administration.


I still don't know what problem I have had with email although I think I have everything from Thursday and Friday now.  I usually keep up and reply quickly, so if I have not, I'm sorry and I hope whatever was wrong is now corrected.

Because of this problem I am not sure about timing, but, I need to ask a couple of questions and they are not rhetorical so I would like an answer:
1.    Did no one read Mr Kurrus' email?
2.    Did everyone assume that his comments were just political positioning or sour grapes?

I think these are important questions because (although he did make some other points) his point about calling this Early Retirement Insurance Incentive is completely valid.  The item we voted did not have "Insurance" in the title and putting it in the title is possibly misleading.


I didn’t see the email until Saturday.  Mrs. Hoffman, Mr. Hartz and I will work on it in the morning.


Work on what? There is nothing to work on. I think Jody’s motion spoke to the flavor of what I supported and voted for completely. I don’t see a need for modifications or revisions. Any attempt to modify the motion should have been made before the actual vote was taken. Stick a fork in me, I’m done!


This ERI plan sure has be confusing unlike the first ERI plan.  I had several inquiries about the old plan and the new plan last Friday so I am going to recap to see if I have things correct.
The first ERI Plan (Nov-Dec 2008)
            This plan was for employees who qualified for ATRS but were not eligible for Medicare.  Hence, the LRSD was going to incentivize these employees to retire by paying a portion (portion that ATRS does not pay) of said employees health insurance until they were eligible for Medicare. 
The second ERI Plan (Mar-Apr 2009)
            This plan is for employees who is paid on a grade 61 or above, is on step 20 and has 5 consecutive years with the LRSD. Hence, the LRSD is going to incentivize these employees to retire by paying them $15,000 to be used for anything, including health insurance if they desire.
            Problems with second ERI Plan
1.      The employee may or may not be eligible for retirement under ATRS.  From what I have heard, many employees have now been misled to think that they can retire based on this “Early Retirement Insurance Incentive” plan.  So Jody is right and we need to be sure in all communications to let them know that even if they qualify for the LRSD Early Retirement Plan, they may not qualify under ATRS.
2.      $15,000 will not be enough to pay for health insurance especially if the employee doesn’t qualify for retirement by ATRS. 
a.      Retiree (not Medicare eligible will probably pay $7, 858 per year or $23,574 for 3 years.
b.      Retiree (Medicare eligible will probably pay $1,729 per year or $5,190 for 3 years.
3.      Approximately ½ the employees who participate in this plan would have retired without the incentive and the other ½ probably will retire within 2 year without the incentive.
As I stated in the meeting ERI plans do not create employee attrition it simply borrows it from the future.
I think this second plan is more of a severance pay plan as opposed to Early Retirement.
But, Mr. Daugherty is right….this turkey has been cooking since Thanksgiving!

I have to write employee communications in my work and words do mean something.  I also noted that the notice said that "plan to retire by June 30, 2009".  The approved plan did not have "plan to" in it.  The notice says "All paperwork must be completed...", it probably should be specific to the early retirement election paperwork.

The notice should probably also include statement(s) regarding the fact that the early retirement incentive does not change the benefits or eligibility under ATRS.

Words are important. 

There are many other things running through my mind since I saw that the notice went out without editing, but I think it is best if I stop at this time.


Jody B. Carreiro
Little Rock School Board, Zone 5


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