Summer Update

WDEA brothers and sisters,
I’ve been holding off on what is normally a mid-summer email for two reasons: I don’t want the summer to end, and the recent dental plan changes everyone is talking about are still in flux. My apologies for any stress the recent dental insurance memo from the district has caused and thank you for your thoughtful responses over the last week or so.
  • Dental rate increase finalized at 29%
  • Open enrollment extended to Sept 15
  • Call Cheryl Robinson at 426-3227 for questions and information
  • Aug/Sept birthdays register teaching certificate with SED
  • Making Strides website is live, please register for 10/16 walk at SRC arena
  • New APPR plan submitted
Dental Insurance: We were blind-sided two weeks ago by that ridiculous 37% rate increase in dental premiums with Ameritas. Immediately we were in contact with the district and ENV Insurance (the broker who contracts with the district to help find and manage insurance related products).  Knowing that many members may not, understandably, be checking their emails in the summer, I asked that the district send all info to you via the mail as well as email. Cheryl Robinson in the DO was very helpful in compiling materials including a spreadsheet of all our insurance premiums, and she quickly got the mailing out to you by the end of the week (thank you Cheryl).  I also contacted ENV and requested specific info about our group’s dental utilization, basically “why did this spike happen and what could we have done to anticipate or prevent it.” Per the WDEA contract, the district covers a fixed amount for dental premiums: $250 for individual, $650 for family. In the past, that amount has been adequate but as rates go up, the member assumes the full cost of the increase.  Our health insurance is different, the district pays 85% of the premium, so any increases are assumed proportionally by the member and the district.  So, this dental rate increase stings a little harder than others.
Since you received the increase notice, ENV has been in contact with Ameritas and they have finalized the rate increase for this year at 29%, still exorbitant but the numbers originally quoted you will be a little lower. I’ve posted the updated insurance rates here:  https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1coCgHBORbGKjfrTOhqHV4b_6TuO4ckFAdBfsp-LSsEM/edit?usp=sharing
We’ve also been in contact with the other unions (WEU, Teamsters [bus drivers], and admin) and will be convening our healthcare committee to compare dental plans, both premiums and benefits.  The district has submitted an RFP (request for proposals) to ENV which charges them with compiling dental plans (Excellus, Delta etc) with similar benefits and premiums for our review.  We’ve used the healthcare committee when we switched to Ameritas, it’s a good model of working together to make big decisions. Of course any changes in dental, as a major benefit in the contract, have to be agreed upon by the union and will be submitted to you for a ratification vote.  It may take a little time, but we’ll be working hard to mitigate this increase and find the right balance of benefits and cost for the members.
In the meantime, the open enrollment deadline that was previously Sept 1 has been extended to Sept 15.  If you have any questions about the insurance coverage or changes, please call Cheryl Robinson in the DO at 426-3227. I can be reached at 882-6344 vial phone or text.
August and September birthdays register certificate with SED. If your birthday falls in August or September (or if you haven’t yet registered a July birthday), please take the time to contact SED and register your teaching certificate. Once you’ve verified your TEACH account with SED it’s a fairly easy process. When I called SED, I had to wait on the phone for 20 mins but they were very helpful and got me the info I needed. DON’T CREATE A NEW ACCOUNT unless you’re sure you don’t have a pre-existing account with the state.  You’re better off calling to verify than trying to create a new account, it will mess things up in the long run. Read my primer on our website at:  https://wdea3115.wordpress.com/2016/06/25/sed-certificate-registration-system-is-live/ and call me if you have any problems.
Our WDEA MAKING STRIDES TEAM is registered and ready to go. Please visit our team page to register and make a donation to the October 16 event. This year the walk to raise money for breast cancer research is being held right in our back yard at the SRC arena on the OCC campus. Please join the team, make a donation, and spread the word to your family and friends. American Cancer Society has a great phone app this year that allows you to track your fundraising goals, post on social media, and even take credit card and check donations right on your smart phone.  Our team fundraising goal this year is $2500, please help us reach our goal. Join the team at:
This summer we met with the district to review and re-submit our APPR plan to SED. The new regulations (3012-d) make significant changes to the plan that we’ll review in full on opening day. The main thing you’ll see in your classroom is the elimination of the LATs and SLO model as a measure of student performance. We negotiated a plan that uses multiple, non-CommonCore assessments (Regents, 4-8 science tests, etc.).  The target for those tests will be negotiated each year by the WDEA. It in no way is a perfect plan, but we think it’s as good as we can get under the current system.  NYSUT continues to lobby for a repeal of the 3012-d law and we hope to see changes to the APPR in the new legislative session.
Thank you for being patient as the summer comes to an end and we navigate these bumps in the road.  I hope you’ve had lots of time to refresh and relax with friends and family.  If you have any questions, please call me and I’ll do my best to get you answers.  If you’re at the Fair on Saturday, Sept 3, stop by the NYSUT booth in the Center of Progress to say “hi”. The WDEA will be at the booth from 10AM-10PM that day. Otherwise I look forward to seeing all of you at our opening day session.
‘Til then,
Greg
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About cnyteacher

News and notes on education, labor, politics and the arts from CNY teacher Greg McCrea.
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