Letter to the Editor: The Truth About A Small Town Teacher’s Pension
Lorraine J. Boles, a 34-year teaching veteran of the Holliston Public Schools, sets out to debunk the myth of the "golden retirement packages.”
In today’s challenging economic climate, not a day goes buy that an article about “Golden Retirement Packages” for public servants doesn’t appear in a newspaper or on a TV news show. It is the misinformation in many of these articles that compels me to write this letter.
As a newly-retired member of the teaching profession in the state of Massachusetts in the town of Holliston, I live within the following plan:
• As a retired Holliston teacher, my pension from the MTRB (Massachusetts Teachers Retirement Board) is funded soley by myself with an 11 percent contribution from each of my paychecks. This pension is also solely funded by all teachers in the state of Massachusetts who are still working. The taxpayers of the town of Holliston and the state of Massachusetts have not contributed one penny toward our monthly retirement pay. This payment is not taxed by the state of Massachusetts as long as I reside in this state or one of the few states that do not collect any state income tax.
• Any other retirement income (ex. 403 B accounts, savings, part-time job salaries, etc) that I make does not receive this tax free benefit.
• Teachers in Massachusetts are not permitted to pay into Social Security. Period.
• My share of my health insurance monthly premium with Harvard Pilgrim is $258. The Town of Holliston pays the other 50 percent of the monthly premium. This is a “perk” that many in the public feel is too generous. Why aren’t retired teachers put on Medicare? Well, I (and all teachers hired before 1985) were prohibited from contributing to the Medicare portion of social security. It is important to note that if I was eligible to contribute to Medicare, the town would have been required to pay 6.2% of my payment into Medicare.
• The town’s portion for monthly health insurance premiums for all of it’s employees (teachers, police, fire fighters, etc) is a negotiated percentage and as such, can be renegotiated during contract negotations with each group.
• My monthly premium for dental insurance is$45.92. The town does not subsidize any dental plans for any of its’ employees.
I would like the public to understand the facts about their teachers’ retirement situation before they make a decision to change any part of it (especially health insurance) based on erroneous information.
I am proud to have served the students of Holliston as a teacher for over 34 years and do not regret having chosen teaching as my lifelong profession. My husband has also taught and coached in Holliston for over 30 years and will retire this fall. He is part of the Holliston teachers’ union that voted to give back four days worth of pay to the town of Holliston in the form of four work furlough days.
This agreement may now cost him a decrease in his monthly pension. Our two sons have graduated from the Holliston Public School system and gone on to study at top ranked colleges, largely in part to the wonderful teachers they had. Over the years, I have seen that the town cares about providing its students with a top-notch education, which is largely paid for with significant real estate taxes.
So here is what I need every taxpayer to understand: I am not getting rich in retirement on any taxpayer’s money. I am paying the same high monthly premiums for health insurance that many of you are and I do not have the “safety net” of Medicare to fall back on. I am also paying the same hefty real estate taxes, gas bills, food bills, etc. to which all of you are subjected.
I have had to learn to live within my means my entire working life and never thought I’d be a rich retired teacher. What I did think was that taxpayers would value the job I did with their children and honor the labor agreements that their elected officials signed. I do not think that is too much to ask for.
Lorraine J. Boles