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School district seeks direction from court

The Clark County School District is hoping for clarity.

Bill Hoffman, general counsel for the district, said that until a Nevada Supreme Court ruling is handed down, decisions on how to deal with the health coverage of future retirees are on hold.

Although the district isn’t a party to a lawsuit involving the Metropolitan Police Department that was heard by the high court Thursday, the case raises issues that will affect it and the 1,900 district teachers now enrolled in the state plan.

Since 2003, the state has required the district to pay a $300 monthly subsidy for each person in the Public Employees Benefits Program, Hoffman said.

If the ruling determines that subsidy no longer has to be paid, the state will discontinue funding to the district for that purpose and the retirees will have to pick up the cost themselves, he said.

Compounding the issue is that those retirees now have no alternatives for health coverage. The health trust set up by the Clark County Education Association to cover teachers no longer accepts retirees.

“Retirees aren’t covered in our collective bargaining agreement,” Hoffman said.

The problem is unique to district teachers. Both support staff and administrator retirees have the option of joining the health plans offered by their groups, Hoffman said. However, they have to pay their own subsidies.

Access to coverage might prove to be a decisive factor for teachers on the verge of retirement. In 2007, the Legislature passed a law making teachers who retire after Sept. 1, 2008, ineligible for PEBS. If no clear option for coverage is available by then, Hoffman said, the district might see a teacher retirement exodus driven by a desire on the part of retirees to have state coverage.

“We’re working hard to figure out how to deal with the problem,” he said.

Contact Review-Journal reporter Lisa Kim Bach at lbach@reviewjournal.com or (702) 383-0287.

 

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