Pension Overview

October 30, 2017

This is from a KEA post by KEA President Stephanie Winkler…….effectively explaining the pension issue to non-educators and non
-public sector employees.,

This post is for my many non-educator friends or those that work outside of the public sector. After several conversations and meetings the past few days, it occurred to me that there is a huge misunderstanding regarding the Kentucky Pension System. Many (maybe the majority) of private sector employees think the system is simply a huge drain on public tax dollars. That simply isn’t true. There is a key tax component, but it is not what you think. The idea seems to be out there that all retirees’ pension benefits, health care, and cost of living adjustments are completely funded by public tax dollars since those folks were public employees.
This post is generally accurate (not intended to be specific) and the percentages have changed over the years, etc. but sharing the basic idea is what I’m trying to get out there to my friends.
Teachers pay from each paycheck 12.855% directly into the KTRS system in some form of retirement & health care payment for future use. The state (as the employer) provides a matching amount {This would be the TAX portion} (just like most private employers). This is law covered by KRS161.550. Then when the teacher retires their pension is basically calculated on 2.0% or 2.5% of their salary for each year of service. So at 27 years at 2.5%/year you should retire with 67.5% of your salary. The money that is paid in from each paycheck is invested by TRS and the earnings from those investments pay the monthly pension benefits. TRS (when separated from the other 7 state pension systems) is actually very stable. Part of what the teacher pays each paycheck is 3% to fund health care for those already retired (those retired also pay a portion). This would be the Shared Responsibility Plan passed in 2010 as House Bill 540. Teachers also pay 1.74% to “pre-fund” their cost of living adjustments (COLA) when they retire. (The COLA is 1.5% for retired educators). So they paid 1.74% to ensure a 1.5% cost of living increase each year.
So YES, teachers pay for their retirement and health care just like those in the private sector, it is NOT just pure tax money, not even close.
Now the TAX component. Remember the employer (state) match required by law, KRS 161.550. Well for roughly 15 of the last 20 years; the STATE decided not to pay their part, even though it is KRS 161.550. In addition at least three times over that same time period the state moved (took) money from the TRS or Health Care funds for a total of over $200 MILLION dollars. Now that is the tax component! The state not only failed to make the required MATCHING payments, they actually took money that was NOT tax dollars; money paid in by educators was used to fund things such as heroin clinics. In the private sector that would be a crime.
Now teachers are being asked to pay 3% MORE for health care that is technically already being paid for, freeze COLA’s which are already pre-paid at a higher rate than the actual COLA (again that is not tax dollars they want to freeze, it is money paid in from teachers’ paychecks). The change in plan style to a defined contribution, change in years of services, There are many unanswered questions.
I would totally agree that the state pension system must be addressed (for all 8 different systems); however, the current plan places virtually all of the “fix” on those public employees who made all their monthly payments, didn’t take the money that was already in the accounts. I could support (not happily but could support) parts of this plan if there was even an effort to find dedicated funding streams for all the pension systems and the law updated so that the state had to make their matching payments and could not on a whim take money paid into retirement by employees to fund drug clinics, feel good movies, or whatever.
Again, this is only meant as an overview for those outside the system that don’t understand this proposal. Many see things like top lawmakers will lose their $100,000 pensions and think the entire plan is good for Kentucky. I personally wonder why lawmakers even receive a pension for a part time job, that is crazy.
Just my thoughts, but feel free to share .


Needed Action

October 21, 2017

OCT 21, 2017 — From our Friends at KEA / JCTA. Please read, then contact your legislator: 1-800-372-7181.

What We Know About Governor Bevin’s Proposed Pension Changes

The only information regarding the proposed changes to Kentucky’s public employee pension plans released by the Governor were a number of very general talking points. Until we have the language of an actual bill, we cannot answer many specific questions.

What we do know or can conclude from the released talking points is the Governor’s plan would…

1) Close the current TRS Defined Benefit (DB) plan to new hires, which would force the TRS DB plan into more and more conservative investments over time, lowering its rate of return, and increasing the state’s required payment by $170 million every year, compared to keeping the DB plan open to new hires. This further destabilizes the DB plan for current teachers and makes it $170 million per year harder for the state to dig out of the Unfunded Liability hole it is in.
2) Force all new hires into a Defined Contribution (DC) plan with higher required employee payments, much lower total employer payments, and no guaranteed retirement benefits – making it much harder to attract and keep quality teachers in Kentucky schools. (It is not clear whether this new plan would be administered by TRS or would be separated from TRS and administered by some other entity. It is also not clear whether educators in the new DC plan would have any disability coverage or post-retirement medical coverage.)
3) Violate the “Inviolable Contract” by cutting retirement benefits for all current and retired teachers by more than 7.5% by freezing for five years the cost of living adjustments (COLAs) that teachers themselves have pre-funded with their own money and are entitled to immediately upon retirement.
4) Reduce the state’s annual statutory contribution toward teacher retirement benefits from its current minimum of about 16% of a teacher’s salary to a flat 4% of a teacher’s salary.
5) Further tax the cash-strapped budgets of local school districts by forcing them to pay an additional 2% of every new teacher’s salary into the new Defined Contribution (DC) plan. This money will come straight out of funds that would otherwise be used for students.
6) Reduce all teacher salaries by 3% by (completely unnecessarily) increasing the required payment to the TRS Medical Insurance Fund (MIF) by 3%. (This is on top of the 3% increased payment added in the 2010 Shared Responsibility Bill, which already fully funds the needed payments for the MIF. So this is essentially a new 3% tax, just for educators.)
7) Violate the “Inviolable Contract” eventually by not honoring the inviolably protected 2.5% multiplier.
8) Violate the “Inviolable Contract” by eventually forcing all current teachers into DC plans.
9) Violate teachers’ constitutionally-protected property rights to the value of their currently earned unused sick days by not recognizing unused sick day payments for pension purposes after 2023.
10) Eliminate the 3.0 multiplier for teachers who retire with more than 30 years of service.
11) Eliminate retirement based a teacher’s high three years of service (instead of high five years of service) for teachers who retire at age 55 or later with at least 27 years of service.

So, while many details remain to be determined, it is clear that the proposed bill will include many damaging changes that will harm the retirement security of Kentucky’s dedicated educators, and we do not need all the details of the bill to know this plan will take Kentucky in the wrong direction. It is virtually certain to entangle Kentucky in multiple expensive legal challenges which the Commonwealth is likely to lose, worsening the TRS funding dilemma. It will make it harder to attract and keep the quality teachers our students deserve. For these and many other reasons, every educator needs to call the legislative hotline and ask their elected officials to reject the plan outlined by the Governor. Tell them to go back to the drawing board and start with a plan to fund the Unfunded Liability.

It you don’t like what’s in this plan, NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT!!!

Legislative Message Line

(800) 372-7181


June 29, 2012

This is my last post to the superintendent’s blog as my time has ended.  As you read this I’ll be on the way to northeastern Ohio. Next week I’ll marry Cheryl and we’ll sit around fussing about whose turn it is to make coffee and walk the dog and raccoon. My occasional blogging will be at

I am excited about the leadership that Mr. McCallon will be bringing to Carlisle County. I know with your support and dedication the Carlisle County Schools will be a district of distinction!

Thanks again for allowing me to go out a Comet!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Thanks Danny Brown, Welcome Mr. McCallon

June 28, 2012

As I reflect back over the past four years it provides some time to celebrate. It was an honor to succeed the late Danny Brown. Danny was an outstanding person and educator. He laid a framework for the school district that the board and I tried to build upon.

His first priority was instruction and school climate. Two of those initiatives were Thoughtful Education and Capturing Kids Hearts that continue to impact our culture.  Over the past 4 years to provide reflection and willingness to be transparent the district has received national accreditation from AdvancED SACS.  In 2011, the Commissioner of Education asked school districts to sign the Commonwealth Commitment to reach an established goal for College and Career Readiness by 2015. We were asked to increase from 29% to 65% and this year we surpassed the 50% mark towards that goal. Next year the district will begin to implement PBIS (Positive Behavior Instruction Supports) to continue fostering a positive school culture.

Danny emphasized the improvement of facilities and laid the groundwork.  In 2008 as he retired major renovations were completed on the middle and high school buildings. Encouraging community involvement, he had the layout for the softball and soccer fields prepared. Since that time both fields were readied and put in use and this year both softball and baseball could play under the lights.  He  pushed for funding for the elementary school renovation. This effort continued with the courage of the school board to pass the recallable nickel and with the community’s generous support a new cafeteria will open this fall. Mr. McCallon and the board will have over 3.5 million in funds to begin Phase 2 of the elementary renovation project.

Finances were a concern as Mr. Brown encountered a significantly smaller balance than projected when he became superintendent, he started a slow and steady process to rebuild the balance. Last year, we ended with the largest balance in the district’s history. This will allow Mr. McCallon and the board breathing room over the next two years as funds are stagnant at best and will probably be reduced. They have a balance to spend down and get through it without drastic action. Not much money to do anything new. During the past few years when many districts have cut employees’ days and salaries and number of employees, our board has managed to maintain and provide slight pay increases.

I think Mr. Brown would agree with me that the future looks bright with Randy McCallon’s leadership as superintendent! From Mr. Brown to Mr. McCallon, There are no problems, only opportunities.

Do It Anyway

June 27, 2012

The only way to be happy and successful; Do it Anyway

People are often unreasonable, irrational and self-centered;
        Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
        Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies;
        Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you;
        Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight;
        Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous;
        Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten;
        Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it may never be enough;
        Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God;
        It was never between you and them anyway.
— Mother Teresa

Still Struggling

June 26, 2012

I know that you have been staying awake at nights to determine an appropriate retirement gift. I thought I would help you end the sleeplessness. It’s not a boat, I’d just end up like Gilligan.

Good news is if you think I did ok and want to spend $10 or $20 or you are giddy with joy with good riddance and want to spend a $1000 it works. A few years ago the Carlisle County Education Foundation was formed to create a permanent fund to support our students.

 The Carlisle County Schools Future Fund was created and the first goal is $10,000. Your gift is tax deductible and will keep giving to the students of Carlisle County.

Send your tax deductible retirement gift to: Carlisle County Schools Future Fund P.O. Box 7901 Paducah, KY 42002-7901 is the website that explains the community foundation and Paducah address.

Social Media

June 25, 2012

Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessings and cursing. My brethen, these things ought not so to be. James 3:10

One of the great challenges that school administrators are dealing with is social media.  As the third chapter of James reminds us to basically use our brains before we speak. I think the same wisdom would be to think before we post.

Blue Rose

June 21, 2012

Blue Rose 

Thanks to Amy Metcalf, Ballard County Schools


Having four visiting family members, my wife was very busy, so I offered to go to the store for her to get some needed items, which included light bulbs, paper towels, trash bags, detergent and Clorox. So off I went.

I scurried around the store, gathered up my goodies and headed for the checkout counter, only to be blocked in the narrow aisle by a young man who appeared to be about sixteen-years-old. I wasn’t in a hurry, so I patiently waited for the boy to realize that I was there. This was when he waved his hands excitedly in the air and declared in a loud voice, “Mommy, I’m over here.”

It was obvious now, he was mentally challenged and also startled as he turned and saw me standing so close to him, waiting to squeeze by. His eyes widened and surprise exploded on his face as I said, “Hey Buddy, what’s your name?”

“My name is Denny and I’m shopping with my mother,” he responded proudly.

“Wow,” I said, “that’s a cool name; I wish my name was Denny, but my name is Steve.”

“Steve, like Stevarino?” he asked.  “Yes,” I answered. “How old are you Denny?”

“How old am I now, Mommy?” he asked his mother as she slowly came over from the next aisle.

“You’re fifteen-years-old Denny; now be a good boy and let the man pass by.”

I acknowledged her and continued to talk to Denny for several more minutes about summer, bicycles and school. I watched his brown eyes dance with excitement, because he was the center of someone’s attention. He then abruptly turned and headed toward the toy section.

Denny’s mom had a puzzled look on her face and thanked me for taking the time to talk with her son. She told me that most people wouldn’t even look at him, much less talk to him.

I told her that it was my pleasure and then I said something I have no idea where it came from, other than by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I told her that there are plenty of red, yellow, and pink roses in God’s Garden; however, “Blue Roses” are very rare and should be appreciated for their beauty and distinctiveness. You see, Denny is a Blue Rose and if someone doesn’t stop and smell that rose with their heart and touch that rose with their kindness, then they’ve missed a blessing from God.

She was silent for a second, then with a tear in her eye she asked, “Who are you?”

Without thinking I said, “Oh, I’m probably just a dandelion, but I sure love living in God’s garden.”

She reached out, squeezed my hand and said, “God bless you!” and then I had tears in my eyes.

May I suggest, the next time you see a BLUE ROSE, don’t turn your head and walk off. Take the time to smile and say Hello. Why? Because, by the grace of GOD, this mother or father could be you. This could be your child, grandchild, niece or nephew. What a difference a moment can mean to that person or their family.

From an old dandelion!  Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

Shared by Paul Shaumberg, Graves County

They Can’t All Be starters

June 20, 2012

A well-known anecdote about parental interference in school athletics programs – a story long-circulated in the coaching ranks – relates the actions of a high school basketball coach who at the beginning of a game sends all 12 members of his varsity squad onto the court for the opening tip. When a referee informs the coach that he has too many players on the court, the coach replies that his starting line-up is the dozen on the court. After the official levies 7 technical fouls on the team, the coach turns towards the parents in the stands behind the bench, spreads his arms wide, and in an exasperated tone of voice makes a simple statement.

“See, I told you they can’t all be starters!”

High School Today, April 2012, p. 10


June 19, 2012

Retiring is good for a little remembering, probably more humor for me than you.

My first summer at Carlisle the big renovations at the middle and high school were being completed. One day as I walked over to the middle school, Ms Jackie comes running out yelling EMERGENCY EMERGENCY. I thought the building was on fire. She did have an emergency as the contractor was inadvertently filling up the guidance office with grout.

In another district, we had a strong band program and they would perform a Christmas concert. The dress rehersal was the performance to the student body. One senior made it a memorable event during the performance, he was was generally a quiet,  high performing student which made this unexpected. During the playing of Jingle Bell Rock, he gets up and starts dancing. All of us in the audience laughed the rest of the day as Doug had stolen the show.

When I taught math, it was when general math was still an option for high school credit. One day we were doing double digit addition and a polite little blond headed girl forgot her book. So I told her to use my book which was the teacher’s edition with answers in red. About 20 minutes later she comes to my desk and I was expecting a question. She quietly tells me, Mr . Shoulders, this math is too damn hard.

Robert in general math 2 had a tendency to take test days off and get a little extra study time. Occassionally, I would use the tests that came with book series. Usually it had 2 or 3 tests, A, B, or C. Ol’ Robert bounces in full of zest after missing a test and ready to go out in the hall and knock it out. So I give him a test, he finishes and comes back in. Keeps pestering me to grade it. So I did and I hand it too him, he yells A 2! How did I make a 2?  I said you got your name right. He failed to check the form of the test.

Charlie was the older scholarly gentlemen, part time teacher and part time administrator, not very mechanical. Sitting around the lunch table he shared about selling his new riding mower which he had just recently bought. We asked why such a quick turnaround, Charlie replies I ran into a tree and I couldn’t get it to move anymore