< Back to blog archive

The Nexus Group: Retirement & Benefits for Feb. 6

Retirement & Health Benefits for February 6

The availability of substitute teachers is a real problem for school districts across the state. The good news is that legislators have clearly heard from their school leaders in their legislative districts about the need to expand the pool of those eligible to substitute. There is also data from a recent survey that further expresses the need.

The staff at the Select Committee for Pension worked with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and polled Washington’s school districts for information about substitute teachers.

The polls were distributed November 24 and due back December 3. Even with this quick turnaround, 94 districts responded, representing 43% of statewide enrollment. Over 89% of the responding districts indicated a shortage of substitutes.

How can this situation be fixed? What are legislators going to do? Currently, there are at least three different approaches and resulting legislative proposals to address this concern.

HB 1737 Addressing the availability of retired teachers as substitutes.
Representatives Orcutt, Santos, Magendanz, Bergquist, Ortiz-Self, Kilduff, Kagi, Zeiger, Tarleton, Muri, Condotta, Pollet

A teacher in plan 2 or plan 3 that has retired under the ERF factors may be employed with an employer for up to two hundred sixteen hours per school year (27 days) without suspension of his/her benefits.

This bill will have its first public hearing February 11th @ 3:30 PM, before the House Appropriations Committee chaired by Rep. Ross Hunter.

HB 1615 (SB 5545) Concerning post-retirement employment
Representatives Appleton, Santos, Pollet, Moscoso, Reykdal, Sells, S. Hunt, Dunshee, Ormsby, Bergquist, Ortiz-Self, Fitzgibbon
Senators McAuliffe, Chase, Liias, Conway

ERF certificated and classified employees may return to part-time work. Companion bill to HB 1615 cited above. No hearings scheduled to date.

SB 5148 Allowing members who retire early under alternate early retirement provisions as set forth in RCW 41.32.765(3) and 41.32.875(3) to work as substitute teachers and continue receiving retirement benefits at the same time.

The title says it all.” Beginning July 1, 2015, employment with an employer for the purposes of this subsection shall not include employment as a substitute teacher as defined in RCW 41.32.010”.

The definition of ‘teacher’ as cited in the bill is: “Substitute teacher” means:

(a) A teacher who is hired by an employer to work as a temporary teacher, except for teachers who are annual contract employees of an employer and are guaranteed a minimum number of hours; or

(b) Teachers who either (i) work in ineligible positions for more than one employer or (ii) work in an ineligible position or positions together with an eligible position.

Senators Parlette, Dammeier, Chase, Conway, McAuliffe, O’Ban

This bill directly addresses the need for substitute with no limit as to number of day allowed. Should a district and students need a long-term sub, then a district could hire one, instead of a series of short-term subs as would be the case in HB 1737 cited above. This bill stands a solid chance of being passed. Its prime sponsors in the Senate are leading Republicans. The problem, however, will be in getting it through the House. The top leadership of the House is highly resistant to allowing once retired persons to reenter employment.

It is important to resolve the restrictions currently placed on certain retirees to return to work in short-term, substitute positions. Legislators need to continue to hear of the need to make such a change. Testimony before hearings, telephone calls, scheduled visits and emails would all be important actions to take to help change the present system.

In another vein, a hearing was before the House Committee on Labor on HB 1273: Implementing family and medical leave insurance.

>This bill, as written, establishes a family and medical insurance program in partnership with the Employment Security Department. Employees could take up to 12 weeks of paid leave. It would be funded by charging an employer 2/10th of 1% of an employee’s wage. This charge would rise to 4/10th of 1% in 2018. Those collected dollars would fund the program.

This bill had a public hearing before the House Committee on Labor on January 29. WASA testified in opposition to the bill. It is an unfunded mandate and the cost to districts in 2017 is estimated to be over $8.8 million, and the cost to employees, the same $8.8 million. By 2109, costs for both groups would rise to close to $18 million for each. The bill is not sensitive to the fact that current collective bargaining agreements already provide for this type of leave although there is no guarantee that an employee would have accrued or been gifted up to 12 weeks of paid leave. But at any rate, a district provides medical leave, which is allowed to accrue, and often provides an opportunity for others to share leave if they wish. In addition, often the district has to also employ and pay a substitute. Meanwhile, that same district and employee is assessed the fee to fund this additional insurance program. This bill was voted out of committee in Executive Session on February 3.

Sponsors: Representatives Robinson, Sells, Farrell, Hudgins, Kagi, Wylie, Sawyer, Walkinshaw, Moscoso, Ryu, Ormsby, Riccelli, Jinkins, Senn, McBride, Gregerson, Fitzgibbon, Moeller, Reykdal, S. Hunt, Stanford, Bergquist, Santos, Pollet, Fey, Tarleton

Fred Yancey
fyancey@comcast.net
The Nexus Group