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Dandridge, Tennessee

March 12, 2012

Jefferson County Teacher Benefits
Expiration of this year's contract looms near!
Staff Photo
Staff Photo

DOE Preparing New Contract

For the first time in several decades, Jefferson County teacher benefits, such as funded health insurance, could become a victim of budget crunching. Jefferson County teachers had previously negotiated their employment contract with representatives of the School Board. Due to recent changes in legislation, this year the Jefferson County Education Association, which was the teacherís negotiating body, has been largely regaled to a sideline position, as the expiration of this yearís contract looms near. The current contract will expire at the end of June and the Department of Education is already preparing a new contract to be reviewed during the Jefferson County School Board retreat later this month. During recent School Board meetings, some Board members have broached the subject of teacherís health insurance benefits, expressing concern that health insurance funding might be on the chopping block. Currently

Jefferson County teachers receive 100% of their individual health insurance coverage, with the County picking up the portion that is not provided by the State of Tennessee. Teachers who have family coverage must contribute the amount beyond their individual coverage. Retiring teachers who are not yet eligible for Medicare are covered by the plan until they reach the age or status for Medicare coverage. Though Jefferson County teachers are ranked mid line in average salary ( 64th of 135 ), they are ranked 101 of 135 in beginning teacherís salaries and that position does not change until a teacher reaches the 15 year mark, when Jefferson County numbers drop to 107 of 135. Not until a teacher reaches a Masterís Degree plus 15 years do the numbers begin to recover. While Jefferson County is not competitive in salary, the benefit of fully paid health insurance is attractive to some teaching applicants. The State of Tennessee values the Counties contribution toward individual health insurance to run between $104 and $160 per employee per month. Jefferson County is not the only county in the State that offers individual coverage at no cost to the employee and it is unclear how much, if any, the benefit advances Jefferson County in the salary ranking schedule. Jefferson County teachers negotiated the benefit several decades ago, in lieu of a raise. Recent legislation on the State level, as well as the exodus of traditional negotiations, have some educators fearing that a change is on the horizon on both the State and local level. Teachers who are planning to take advantage of the early retirement incentive, which is designed to encourage teachers who have more years of service and a greater salary to retire before they are the age to receive Medicare, are putting plans on hold until the School Board unveils their contract plans. Presently those teachers that participate in the early retirement incentive can continue on with the current funding of their health insurance until they are Medicare eligible. Rumors of State and local cuts have highlighted the early retirement group as the first demographic to lose funding contributions. Should the local School Board decide to alter the negotiate funding agreement, it is unclear if that would be only for new hires, as the benefit was offered in lieu of a raise and would be akin to a salary cut. Some independent research organizations that have compiled information on individual States have contended that, while the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System is one of the most solid in the Nation, Tennessee is in need of adjustment to their State employee insurance benefits. The recent shift in teacherís representation with the local School Boards may make health insurance funding a casualty of legislation, if not during the 2012-2013 contract year, then in the near future.

Saint Patrick's Day


Saturday, March 17 is the day that many Americans will join their Irish counterparts to celebrate their shared heritage. Saint Patrickís Day has long been a part of American culture and its part in the fabric of the Nation pre exists the Revolutionary War. The Day is an acknowledgement of the contributions of Saint Patrick, a fourth century priest who dedicated his life to teaching the principals of Christianity to the masses. Though blue was the original color associated with the date, early on soldiers donned the color green as a nod to Saint Patrickís use of the shamrock to demonstrate the trinity.

Saint Patrickís Day is celebrated on March 17, which is the date of the death of Saint Patrick. Because it is know as a time of feast, the Irish government has occasionally changed the official date of celebration. If the holiday falls on another traditional religious day, such as Palm Sunday, or during any day during Holy Week, the government will shift the time of celebration. In 2008 the official date of celebration was changed due to Holy Week observances and it will most likely be altered in 2160, when it, again, falls during Holy Week.

Though traditionally a religious holiday in Ireland, during recent years the Irish Government has capitalized on the Day as a means to bring world wide attention to the tourist possibilities in Ireland. Saint Patrickís Day brings to mind leprechauns and pots of gold, green beverages and parades. Americans of Irish decent find the Day as a way to touch base with their heritage. One addition that Americans have added to Irish holiday is the playful pinch for those not sporting green on March 17.


Senator Faulk Won't Seek Reelection

(Nashville, TN) March 8, 2012 Ė Senator Mike Faulk announced during one of his Student Town Hall meetings that he will not be a candidate for reelection to the State Senate.

ďMy ailing mother and my business need me more than the Senate needs me. Most folks understand the need to care for a gravely ill parent.," Faulk said. "Being at her side is a higher priority of mine than campaigning for reelection for the next 8 months."

In regard to his business, Faulk added: "For the past three years, having time to work in my business after first doing my Senate responsibilities has been a struggle. As a solo attorney, I need to work much, much more over the next four years to keep my business going."

Faulk also noted his term-limits pledge was a part of his decision. "As Candidate Faulk, I told folks Iíd serve a term or two. I'll be keeping that promise by becoming Citizen Faulk,Ē said the Senator.

ďServing in the State Senate has been the highest honor of my lifetime. Every single day Iíve learned something new about the special privilege Iíve been given. I will be eternally grateful for that privilege,Ē Senator Faulk added.

Gerber Good Start Gentle Powdered Infant Formula: Recall - Off-Odor

AUDIENCE: Consumers, Pediatrics

ISSUE: Gerber notified the public that it recalled one lot of Gerber Good Start Gentle Powdered Infant Formula, 23.2 ounce plastic package, because the affected product might have an off-odor noticeable to some consumers. In some cases, spit-up and other gastrointestinal complaints have been reported. The recall applies to batch GXP1684, expiration date of March 5, 2013.

BACKGROUND: See product photos using link below.

RECOMMENDATION: Consumers who have the product with the batch code and expiration date above should contact the Gerber Parents Resource Center at 1-800-487-7763 for replacement. Gerber is working with retailers to retrieve any remaining product from this batch.

Healthcare professionals and patients are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of these products to the FDA's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:

Complete and submit the report Online:
Download form or call 1-800-332-1088 to request a reporting form, then complete and return to the address on the pre-addressed form, or submit by fax to 1-800-FDA-0178

Iran Ready To Negotiate with IAEA

By Jake Depew, Jefferson County Post Staff Writer
On Thursday, March 8, 2012, Iranís ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated that the country is ready to open negotiations with the IAEA again. Although the ambassador insists that Iran will not fully dismantle to nuclear program, the news comes as a relief to the several world powers that have been pushing for tighter sanctions on Iranís nuclear program. Some nations have grown concerned over the satellite images of Parchin military base, where earth-moving equipment was photographed. These nations fear that Iran is trying to cover signs of nuclear activity, although no direct evidence has been revealed to support the notion. Despite these concerns, Iran has shown a willingness to allow United Nations inspectors to visit Parchin base. These inspections could greatly reduce tensions between many world powers and Iran. The Iranian ambassador insists that both Iran and the United Nations must come to agreement on a wider range of issues before any inspections will be permitted. Iranian officials still insist that the nuclear program is intended for civilian energy purposes only, and the Iranian ambassador has stressed that the country is willing to open negotiations in order to keep peace.

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