Have you ever wondered why there are so many people that retire from DeSoto County Schools, yet you see them still employed there?! Why would any person be ready to retire from their place of employment, but they continue to work there?! If you have often wondered this, you are not alone. Many teachers and citizens have asked these same questions many times over. It got me to thinking about it, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I have spent a lot of time asking these questions and getting the answers. Read through this and let me hear from you. I am curious what your thoughts will be after you hear why this is such a frequent occurence in DeSoto County. I will attach some links at the end as points of reference for you.
Off the top of my head, there are 10 people that I know that are retired, receiving full retirement benefits and being paid a salary by the school district. In some cases, these individuals are paid 25% of their previous salary, 50% of their previous salary or between $25-$45/hour. Now let me add to this that these people are only required to work 5 days/month. Before you ask, YES you did read that correctly. Let me give you an example: Assistant Superintendent A, previously making $100,000/yr., retires after working 35 years in the school district. Assistant Superintendent A continues to work in the school district and in the same position, what will their pay be? (PERS Retirement Manual would be the most accurate way of determining the actual number. Since this is strictly an example, I will give you a rough estimate using the basic calculations from the manual.) Assistant Superintendent A will make 75% of their salary. Assistant Superintendent A will make $75,000/yr in retirement benefits. Because Asst Supt A is still working, they will receive 25% of their salary ($100,000) = $25,000. Now, they are only required to work 5 days/month, so basically they are working 5 days a week to make the exact same money they did before. BUT WAIT, there is more. Through the retirement plan they receive “The 13th Check”. This is a “cost of living” check paid once a year. Asst Supt A will receive 3% of their base annual salary (3% of $75,000) their first year. The 13th Check in this example would = $2,250. What does all of this mean in simple terms? Assistant Superintendent A has retired, works 5 days a month, makes $100,000/yr. with a Christmas bonus of $2,250. Sounds great, right?!
Now, let me give you some additional information about the infamous “13th Check”. That 3% does not stay the same from year to year. It goes up 3% or more EVERY year. If Assistant Superintendent A works 10 more years, what will they be making? This person would be making their $75,000 a year from retirement, $25,000 a year in salary and their 13th Check for year 10 will be $22,500. Yes, you are seeing that correctly! Asst Supt A, for year 10, just made $122,500 in year 10 of retirement. This almost seems too good to be true, but it is VERY TRUE!!! Adding to this a real life situation, let’s now look at an estimate of what a real DCS Retiree is making. Remember when the Superintendent said he was taking a paycut for the team? Remember when he said that he would be making $38,000/yr for the betterment of our school district? Well let us take a look at that.
Superintendent Kuykendall retired which is his right to do. As an elected official, he is permitted to retire, still hold office, make 25% of his salary and receive full retirement benefits. There are many factors to consider in determining the exact numbers, but we have enough known information to get a basic idea of his currently yearly earnings. It has been stated in the paper that his current salary is $38,000. His top, highest paid 4 years average is $155,000. According to information I have been given from insiders, he is probably making 80% of the $155,000 = $124,000/yr in retirement benefits. Add to this the $38,000 he makes in salary, you get $162,000/yr. Based on these numbers, his 13th check would be $3,720 his first year. So what did Superintendent Kuykendall get paid in his first year of retirement, he got paid roughly $165,720. This does NOT sound like a pay cut to me. This sounds like a very nice raise. Let us also keep in mind that he is not the only one on this plan. Why is this important? What does this mean? How does it affect tax payers?
Although everyone taking advantage of these retirement benefits have the right to do so, these do have an extreme effect on us. Taxpayers pay for the retirement, the salaries AND the salaries of all those we have to hire to do their job. Because these people are required to only work 5 days per month, we have to hire someone else to actually do their job. Let me be clear….I am not claiming that Supt Kuykendall only works 5 days per month. As an elected official, his days of work will differ from those of district retirees, BUT he still has a much more flexible schedule as a retiree. I know that there is an Assistant Principal in the district that retired and is on this same plan. if that Assistant Principal only works 5 days per month, we have to hire someone else to actually fill that position on a regular every day basis. Does this help our district? Does this benefit that school? In my opinion, this is a big issue. How can there be any stability or consistency for staff and students if you never know who is going to be there? How can that retiree benfit the Principal or be aware of every day activities with such a limited work schedule? Let us not forget that we are paying for all of these people. Taxpayers are paying for all of these people.
It is very hard to stomach listening to the budget cuts song and dance or the teachers pay cuts song and dance when so many people are contributing to these problems. Why is it OK to give an already low paid teacher a pay cut while being OK to have many retirees in the district draining us dry? The retirees’ salaries negatively impact the school district’s budget, and the retirement benefits and salaries drain the taxpayers dry. We also have to consider the fact of these people pulling from the PERS Retirement System while not contributing anything back to it. Once you retire, you are not paying into it anymore. I have heard through multiple newspaper reports and state legislators, the PERS System has 23 billion dollars in it. That definitely sounds financially sound, but what will the long term effect be if we have too many people drawing from the system and not paying in. Maybe there will be no impact, and that concern may not be a concern at all. I do find it a concern that we are paying so many people to do 1 job. There are a considerable amount of people in these part time positions, and taxpayers are paying that high price. Imagine if we got rid of one of the $25,000 salaries and used that money to give some raises. If 10 people are receiving the $25,000 part time salary, we could eliminate those positions and have $250,000 to spread out among teachers, use for bills or any other areas of concern. In my opinion, it sounds like we could do some “creative restructuring” and really benefit the school district.
All of the concerns raised are not to hurt those benefitting from the system. We have some wonderful people that have given a lot of years to our schools and to our children. The retirement system in its own right is very financially beneficial. Mississippi has been noted as having one of the best retirement plans in the country. After reading all of this, I am sure you can see why. All of the these people are well within their rights to do what they are doing. My concerns are: 1. How can these Administrators make the best decisions for our schools financially when they have something to gain by everything staying the same? 2. With our school taxes being high already, how can taxpayers not be concerned about the financial implication this is having on us? 3. How many employees in the system are negatively impacted by this? 4. Most importantly, WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS?! Do they not deserve stability, consistency and a sound financial governing body? Teachers are working so hard, and they are getting paid so little. The Superintendent told us recently that it was easier to give 42 Principals raises than 2000 teachers. I don’t think he meant the teachers are less deserving, but I do think it is easier to worry about a few than worry about the whole. Coming up with money for 2000 people is difficult, but where there is a will there is a way. Already high paid Principals did not need more money. The teachers NEED the additional pay.
I do not bring these issues to light to make anyone look bad. I bring them up because too many others are afraid to. These are the questions people want answers to. These are the questions people have a right to know. I would have done a Public Records Request with the school district (for the amount of retirees in the school district on this plan), but the school district charges outlandish amounts of money for all records request. I don’t want tohave to pay $500 for something that any citizen actually has a right to know. I pray that we can restructure our school system at some point and makes sure that the money is being spent as intended, as it is beneficial and in a way that gives our children the best opportunities available. I would love to hear what you think. Let us hear from you! We do NOT allow defamation, slander, bullying or character assasination, but we welcome all to have opinions and comments whether in agreement with our views or not.