- Insert nifty clause in contract
- Work five years
It's that simple! Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch?
How did Walts get his benefits?Wow, $6 mil in savings. And that last chunk of the clause is curiously starting to fall away.
Greece Post MPNNow.com
Wed May 07, 2008
Greece, N.Y. -
When Steve Walts walked out of Greece Central in 2005, he did so knowing that his former district would foot the bill when it came to his health-care benefits.
A 2004 deal by Walts and former Board of Education members included Greece Central paying for his health care, even if he stopped working in the district. The Board of Education now is looking into whether to end the deal.
Walts, superintendent from 1998 to July 2005, entered into the agreement with the Greece board, led by then President Paul Wawrzyniak, in June 2004. Part of the agreement included the district's coverage of 80 percent of a health insurance plan offered by the district and chosen by him.
But the contract was updated in December of that year and expanded how much Greece would be responsible for regarding his benefits. An addendum passed Dec. 14, 2004, when Walts was 50, said that, if he retired or became disabled, he would be eligible for coverage in any group health insurance program with the district covering 100 percent of its costs.
When Walts left Greece in 2005 for Prince William County School District in Virginia, the benefits kicked in because of this clause: “For the purposes of any retirement benefit ... the Superintendent shall be deemed to have retired from his employment if he has completed at least 5 years of service as Superintendent of the District and there shall have been no finding of guilt on charges brought against the district.” Walts was considered retired from Greece.
Some board members have tried unsuccessfully before to overturn the agreement, but a recent State Comptroller’s audit could open the door, based on the wording at the end of that clause. Board member Joe Moscato made a motion to end the benefits in February, days after a preliminary audit was leaked, but other board members did not support it.
In 2006, then board President Ken Walsh said Walts' coverage cost Greece a little over $1,000 a month but the district would not confirm that, citing privacy reasons. Board member Joe Moscato estimated a few months ago that Greece could save close to $6 million over the next 30 years if it ends Walts' coverage.
Some have criticized the way the addendum was approved. Video of the Dec. 14, 2004, meeting shows the vote took about 15 seconds. No board members asked questions and there was no discussion.
Former board members Bill Grason, George Hubbard and Ken Walsh voted against the addendum. Former board members Karen Hoffman, Bob Mueller, Larry Sweet, Eric Peterson, Bill Russell and then President Gerry Phelan approved it.
School districts paying the bulk of a superintendent's health care isn't unusual. The contract of Walts' short-lived successor, Meg Keller-Cogan, included 90 percent health insurance coverage. If she retired, she was eligible to continue coverage in a district plan, with the district paying 90 percent.
But Keller-Cogan’s contract didn't contain the clause regarding retirement after five years that Walts' did, so she wasn’t eligible to receive the benefits after she left Greece within a year of being appointed to the post.
That Dec. 14, 2004, meeting also left Walts with a longevity clause in his contract. It granted him “$1,000 for each completed year of his tenure: Next July (2005) — the start of his eighth year in office — he will receive a $7,000 bonus; in July 2006, the bonus will increase to $8,000, and so on.”
Grason, Hubbard and Walsh voted against it. Hoffman, Mueller, Sweet, Peterson, Russell and Phelan approved it.
Why don't they give the teachers free healthcare?