Friday, February 8, 2013

Rumor Has It…

A “rumor” is "an unverified account or explanation of events circulating from person to person and pertaining to an object, event, or issue in public concern.

“Rumor has it the salary and benefit package is going to be horrible.”

“Rumor has it your salary is going to be cut in half.”

“Rumor has it the staff with the most seniority will be let go because their wages are too high.”

“Rumor has it it’s going to be ugly.”

The weather has turned cold and the snow is piling up.  The snow, rather “Snowball Effect”, is also affecting some of our staff members and employees.  The Snowball Effect is something people use to describe a situation that starts small and gradually builds up, consuming everything in its path.

There have been numerous rumors circulating through our buildings and community regarding the upcoming Employee Handbook and especially with employee benefits.  Some of these rumors are listed above.  If you are one of the people pushing the “snowball”, please stop.  There is nothing further from the truth.

As you know, the final approval for the Employee Handbook comes from the Janesville School Board.  I will give my recommendation to the Board, but the ultimate decision lies with them.  I spend a lot of time with Board members and I have never heard any of them make any comments such as the ones listed above as “rumors.” 

I can understand that these rumors may have started because there are so many unknowns about the decisions and direction of employee benefits, wages, and salaries at this time.  Even I cannot always predict the unknowns but what I can do is share with you those things that I know. 

First, I do know that the Board cares about each and every employee. They want the School District of Janesville to be a place that retains, recruits, and rewards employees that are high performing and effective.  They also need to be responsible stewards of the District’s resources. They take this responsibility very seriously.

Now let’s talk about what you can expect. All employees should be aware that a deduction will be paid out of wages to assist with the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) contribution.  In fact, all non-represented employees of the District have been contributing to WRS already and currently they pay half of the WRS contribution with the District contributing the other half.  For your information, contribution rates for Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) employees and employers have increased from 11.8% to 13.3% starting January, 2013.  If employees need help calculating their individual contribution, they can contact our payroll department at Extensions 5051 or 5052.
Next, are health premium contributions. As most of you are aware, health insurance has been discussed and it appears the Board is contemplating a 10% premium share. While this is not locked in, I haven’t heard the premium will be any higher than 12%.

Employees currently contribute $17.00 per month for single coverage. Under the proposed plan singles would pay nothing per month if they chose the HRA plan which has the higher deductible. Employees would pay about $40.00 more per month if they choose the either the PPO plan with a $500.00 deductible or the $100.00 deductible Mercy EPO plan. Depending on the plan employee chooses, the monthly premium share will range from a savings of $17.00 per month to an increase of around $23.00 per month. 

If an employee has a full family plan, they are currently contributing about $43.00 per month. Under the proposed plan the employees on a family plan would pay about $85.00 per month if they chose the HRA plan (which has the higher deductible.  Employees will pay about $126.00 per month if they choose the $500.00 deductible PPO plan or pay about $118.00 per month if you choose the Mercy EPO plan. Depending on the family plan the employee chooses, the monthly increase will range from $42.00 per month up to about $83.00 per month.  It is important to note that most districts have seen increases in employees’ premium shares and what the SDJ is looking at is comparatively small.  

Finally, let’s talk about wages and salaries. You may have noticed that there is a shift occurring around salaries and wages tied to performance in the District.  We have already made movement towards a performance based salary framework with the Administrators and Coordinators starting with the 2013-2014 school year.   As for all other employees, there is no recommendation for sweeping cuts across the District in salaries and wages.  However, my recommendation is that if an employee has been informed by their supervisor of their low performance a change in salary will be considered.

I encourage everyone to ask questions rather than speculate.  I remind you to send your questions and suggestions to the Employee Handbook email account.  We read each message and send a personal response. It is easy to access: 

All employees have direct access to the superintendent or each Board member through e mail, text, phone call or private meeting.

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