Retired substitutes present claims
Claims made by retired substitutes were a topic of discussion at a Yuma Union High School District governing board meeting Wednesday evening.
Retired teachers spoke during the call to the public regarding a “Part Time Early Retirement Employment Agreement” issued to them upon retirement. They were concerned about how they had been paid for substituting during the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years and how it didn't match what their past agreement said they should be paid, double the going substitute rate.
Administration sought counsel on behalf of the district and outlined a plan of consideration for claims that retired teachers might bring to the district, which so far have resulted in more than $80,000 in claims.
Mary Lynn Coleman, director of human resources for the district, said the going rate for substitute teachers is $75 for teachers in town and $85 for teachers in San Luis. Due to major budget cuts in 2009 to the district's Maintenance and Operations budget, from which substitutes are paid, the retiree substitute rate was reduced to $120 in 2010 and then last year to $100. Coleman said that cuts were being made in all areas of the district, and a substitute committee made the recommendation to the board to make these cuts in pay.
Superintendent Toni Badone said the district didn't realize during this time that this agreement had been made back in the '90s, as it was a part of a total package offered to retiring employees through age 65 so they could continue on with the district's health insurance as long as they paid their premiums.
She noted that when they found out about this part of the package, the practices were still legal under Uniform System of Financial Reporting because even with that agreement, it was still up to the board every year to approve that budget. For that reason, Badone said, the agreement technically could have not been in effect, but in the meantime it was part of the package that 39 of the district's 55 retirees had.
Badone said the agreement stopped being issued in February 2010, and they hadn't received complaints from retired teachers who were substitute teaching for lower pay until recently. She added that because retired substitutes had been receiving the lower pay since 2010, it is now too late to pay them the salary for that time as it is illegal for the district to go back and make payments for past fiscal years unless the retiree files a claim.
“Certainly, our district wants to keep its promises, but at the same time, everybody in our district experienced — in some way or another — different levels of cuts,” she said, noting that administrators are doing double the work that they were back in 2008 when there was more staff and teachers, while teachers, although their base pay has not been cut, have lost a lot of opportunities to earn other dollars through Proposition 301 and other special assignments.
“We appreciate our retirees, but everybody was in the boat,” Badone said. “We want to be good for our word, but at the same time we want to be fair to all concerned and it's going to cost the district.”
With four board members at the meeting, the plan was adopted as follows with three yes votes and one nay vote:
“Substitutes who are retired district teachers, who signed the document formerly included in District policy known as ‘Part Time Early Retirement Employment Agreement,' who worked as substitute teachers during the 2010-2011 and/or 2011-2012 school years, and who have filed claim letters shall be paid the amount of their claim, or the difference between the wages paid and wages calculated at double the then current substitute rate of pay, whichever is less, for school years 2010-2011 and 2011-2012. Payments shall be made only if all of the following apply:
“1. Retired teacher has filed a claim in writing by May 1, 2013 and specified a dollar amount claimed for substitute wages owed.
“2. Claimants shall be paid at double the then current substitute rate of pay only for services rendered before the teacher reached the age of 65, as provided in the agreement.
“3. The Claimant must sign a settlement agreement, waiver and release of all claims in the form approved by the Governing Board.”
Also Wednesday, the board unanimously approved a proposed settlement agreement, waiver and release of claims as the document by retired teachers as a condition of payment related to a claim filed for the substitute wages in question. This also protects the district from future liability for claims related to these particular substitute wages.
During a special meeting next Wednesday, the board will vote on each individual claim, and any others made after that point until May 1 will be approved at future board meetings on the consent agenda. The meeting will be held at noon in the district's governing board room, 3150 S. Avenue A.
Sarah Womer can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.