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Some area school workers may have to start paying into Social Security after federal decision

Sunday, November 16, 2008

School districts are grappling with a decision that would require certain school employees to begin paying into Social Security.

Local superintendents said the decision is a cause of concern, as employees worry about larger monthly withholdings and the effect the changes will have on their retirement benefits.

Currently "classified" staff members -- generally those that hold a teaching certificate -- pay into the Missouri Public School Retirement System. But following an audit of two Missouri school districts, the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration determined some of those employees should not have been exempt from paying Social Security taxes.

In an Oct. 22 letter, the Missouri Office of Administration said only the positions of "teacher, teacher-secretary, substitute teacher, supervisor, principal, supervising principal, superintendent or assistant superintendent, nurse, or librarian" should be exempt.

That means counselors, speech pathologists, instructional aides, Parents As Teachers workers or bus drivers may have to begin paying into Social Security starting July 1. The state Social Security Administration has not released a list of exactly which employees will be affected.

"There are all kinds of speculation and all kinds of rumors. People are saying 'Oh, it might be librarians or it might be counselors.' It's a big mess, and everyone's panicking because they think it's them," said Leila Medley, political director for the Missouri National Education Association. "No decisions have been made yet."

The association posted information on its website showing how an employee could be affected. It says "nonexempt" employees would pay 9 percent of their salary to the Missouri Public School Retirement System and 6.2 percent of their salary to Social Security, for a total of 15.2 percent. A person making $60,000 a year would pay $9,120.

A teacher or exempt employee would pay 13.5 percent of his or her salary to the Missouri Public School Retirement System, or $8,100 for someone making $60,000. School districts are required to match employee contributions.

"Right now we still don't know exactly how much money we're talking about. ... We don't even know who all will be affected. It has not totally been defined," said Dr. Jim Welker, superintendent of the Cape Girardeau School District.

Noncertified school employees who already pay into PEERS, or the Missouri Public Education Employee Retirement System, will not be affected.

Eight statewide organizations representing school groups have approved a resolution asking for more time before the changes go into effect. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Missouri, wrote a letter to the commissioner of Social Security, saying the change would cause a "dire hardship" on districts.

Dr. Ron Anderson, superintendent of the Jackson School District, said he has more questions than answers. "I've heard some people speculate on this group or that group. I wouldn't want to venture a guess. This is a major concern we have," he said.

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I am a teacher at a local school and I love how the writer used the example amount as $60,000 instead of a true teaching amount. I do not know what "2" school districts the state audited but they must not have come to Southeast Missouri. I am sure these were more like St.Louis and Kansas City schools. Most school districts around here have a pay scale for teachers, including speech pathologists and counselors, that tops out around 50,000. This is after a masters and 24 plus hours of specialty classes. For the government to decide that they are going to cut our pay even more is absurd! Thank you to Kit Bond who has realized the hardships it is going to cause. I know that this may be only a little money to some of you out there, but to a teacher, 15% of our salary is unbelievable. Maybe these government officials should try to live on a teachers salary for a few months. Let them see how hard it is to support a family on it and then we will talk about cutting the salaries again!

-- Posted by 23teach on Sun, Nov 16, 2008, at 12:24 PM

Everyone in society who makes less than $250,000 (other than teachers)have to pay SS Tax. So big deal these people are finally going to have to pay a tax that they should have been paying all along!

-- Posted by Skeptic1 on Sun, Nov 16, 2008, at 2:16 PM

Oh come on---teachers whining AGAIN? They are overpaid. They work only 9 months out of the year. They work from 8-3 (SIX hours a day)----which computes to 30 hours a week. They don't pay SS taxes. They whine about being tested. They whine about minor behavior problems. I TELL THEM TO BUCK UP OR GET ANOTHER JOB. Teachers are a dime a dozen. Remember those who can't---TEACH.

-- Posted by JackTorrance on Mon, Nov 17, 2008, at 6:58 AM

Jack I don't see anywhere in the article where teachers are whining. Teachers are not a dime a dozen either. Counselors and Speech Pathologists should be allowed to pay into the MO Teachers' Retirement in lieu of social security as they are very much a part of the educational system. Teachers typically work or they are contracted for approximately 180 days of the year. Typically the teachers put in a 9 hour day, when you consider preparing their lesson plan. Many teachers do not get that planning hour that you think they get because they are busy doing administrative things such as preparing IEPs for special needs students (any student who requires any interventions such as speech pathology, and any student in an accelerated program are also considered special needs students), attending IEP staffing meetings with parents, grading papers, planning field trips...the list goes on and I'm sure teachers on here can add to the list.

-- Posted by Beaker on Mon, Nov 17, 2008, at 9:07 AM

Beaker-

Jack was probably referring to the first blog post who was a teacher whining about her salary. I agree with Jack- those who don't like their jobs and pay scale in the education system should find a different job.

-- Posted by Skeptic1 on Mon, Nov 17, 2008, at 9:48 AM

Why are Speech Language Pathologists paid on a teacher scale anyway? They should be on their own pay scale.

-- Posted by budman79 on Mon, Nov 17, 2008, at 2:01 PM

"teacher, teacher-secretary, substitute teacher, supervisor, principal, supervising principal, superintendent or assistant superintendent, nurse, or librarian" are exempt from this issue.

This is an issue that is mainly effecting school counselors and speech/language pathologists. They should be entitled to the same retirement benefits that all the other school officials have.

-- Posted by supersemo on Mon, Nov 17, 2008, at 3:33 PM

Teachers don't pay into SS BUT can't draw SS, either.

-- Posted by JHS on Mon, Nov 17, 2008, at 3:48 PM

I agree supersemo. It seems as though those positions were inadvertently omitted from the pension. I cannot figure out any rhyme or reason why counselors and Speech Pathologists would not participate in MSTR. They are contracted by the state for a set number of days just like teachers are...they are state employees and they have a significant impact on the educational system. I would think that they should be entitled to the same MSTR plan as teachers; and thanks for the clarification JHS, teachers cannot collect from social security.

-- Posted by Beaker on Mon, Nov 17, 2008, at 6:38 PM

Thanks Frazzled. I re-read that first post, and I don't see where anybody is whining. The point of the article is that some positions may need to start paying into SS...but the logic to determine who pays into MSTR versus SS is flawed...perhaps when MSTR is born, school districts did not employ Speech Pathologists and counselors/advisors. I do not know. But the MSTR plan goes back generations. As for the statement, if you don't like the income, find a new job outside of the educational system and the other comment, "those who can't, teach"...I'm guessing you don't have any children in the public school system. I'm also thinking based on the pattern of responses from other articles, that you and Jack are really the same person?

-- Posted by Beaker on Mon, Nov 17, 2008, at 6:53 PM


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