School Board analyzes post-retirement program


A program that pays retired Henrico school system employees a percentage of their final annual salaries in exchange for their part-time work within the system saves considerable money on substitute teacher expenses but could provide even more value to the system with several adjustments.

That was the conclusion of an in-depth analysis completed by county and school system finance officials, who presented their findings to the School Board Sept. 13.

At the beginning of the current fiscal year in July, the board increased the requirements of retirees who participate in the Post-Retirement Earnings Plan (PREP) program, mandating that they work at least 28 days during the school year in order to receive pay equal to 20 percent of their final annual paychecks. Eligible retirees may participate in the program for a maximum of seven years; 388 participate currently.

It was the third change made in the past three years by the board, which is seeking to squeeze more value from the 32-year-old program while reducing its annual cost. The PREP budget has dropped from its peak of $8.9 million in 2009 to $5.6 million during the current fiscal year. Prior to this year’s change, PREP participants received 22 percent of their final paycheck in exchange for working 24 days a year.

The program was created in 1980 as a way to provide a benefit to employees, encourage early retirement and save the school system money. During its budget process this spring, the School Board sought specific data to better determine the effectiveness and value of the program. But last week’s work session was proof that categorizing that value is a challenging exercise.

Though it’s relatively easy to determine the cost savings that results from using PREP retirees as substitute teachers – since there is a standard rate of pay for substitutes – it’s much more difficult to determine the value of administrative retirees who perform a variety of other responsibilities, Henrico Finance Director Gene Walter told the School Board.

Walter and his staff studied 507 PREP participants who entered the program during the past seven years and whose replacements were hired immediately upon their retirement. (The study didn’t include nearly 50 other participants whose former positions were eliminated, he said.)

Of those 507, 317 were retired teachers whose combined participation during those seven years saved the system $1.18 for each $1 it spent on the program, Walter said.

But Walter and his analysts could not determine a dollar-to-dollar estimate for the other 190 participants because their roles within the system were less defined and often entailed duties for which the system wouldn’t have hired temporary help.

School system officials recommended that the board consider a number of changes to the program that would make it easier to determine a clear value for each dollar spent in the program, including:

• assigning every participant to serve either as a substitute teacher (if qualified) or to fill another capacity with specific and direct calculable benefit to the system (such as SOL remediation);

• capping the maximum allowable salary to a participant at $90,000 annually;

• increasing the number of required years of Henrico service from 10 years to 15 years for eligible retirees and reducing the number of required years of service in the Virginia Retirement System from 16 to 15;

• requiring that interested participants notify the system of their intent by Dec. 1 annually and begin their participation the following July 1 (as opposed to the current system, which permits entry throughout the year – a minimum of 30 days after retirement – and makes budgeting for the program less predictable);

• grandfathering all current participants under the current standards until they have completed their seven years or dropped out of the program.

“We have determined that there’s a large responsibility on everyone’s part here to develop something that’s going to be very beneficial and cost-effective and also value-added to the school system,” Superintendent Pat Russo said during the work session. “That’s where we want to move this program.”

Current guidelines require that participants be at least 50 years old without having attained the age for full, unreduced Social Security benefits. The program initially was designed in part to serve as a bridge between retirement and Social Security, HCPS Finance Director Kevin Smith told the board. Using current standards, 854 current school system employees would be eligible to participate in the PREP program if they retired, HCPS Human Resources Executive Director Howard Banks said.

The board is expected to discuss the recommendations and the PREP program again at a meeting next month.
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Va. State Police release opioid/heroin awareness videos


Virginia State Police officials have released two opioid/heroin awareness videos.

One video – Broken Dreams, details the story of Sheriff Alleghany County Sheriff Kevin W. Hall’s son, Ryan, and his battle with addiction. The video describes Ryan Hall's struggle to overcome addiction and persevere.

The second video, No Second Chance, debuted recently on the Eastern Shore and follows the tragic consequences of a 20-year-old Accomack County woman who died from a heroin overdose in July 2016. > Read more.

Business in brief


To mark the changing of the name of Cadence at the Glen to Verena at the Glen, the independent living rental retirement community in Glen Allen is hosting an open-to-the-public celebration Nov. 16. The Showcase of Homes will feature cuisine from the culinary team, refreshments and live jazz, along with tours of the community. The public will also have the opportunity to meet residents and staff. Verena at the Glen is owned by an affiliate of Chicago-based Green Courte Partners, LLC. With the name change to Verena (Latin for true) the community is bringing an updated wellness philosophy, along with enhanced dining, fitness programs, services and activities. The Showcase of Homes at Verena at the Glen will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The community is located at 10286 Brook Road, Glen Allen. RSVP at http://VerenaAtTheGlen.com/RSVP. > Read more.

GRASP offers Spanish-speaking advisor for financial aid questions


GRASP, a nonprofit, charitable, college-access organization that assists students and families in obtaining funding for post-secondary education, now has a Spanish-speaking advisor available to assist students and families with the financial aid process.

The advisor, Conchy Martinez, is bilingual and is available to assist with outreach to the Latino community. > Read more.

Henrico Schools to host 7 meetings for budget feedback


Henrico Schools will host seven meetings prior to the release of Superintendent Pat Kinlaw's proposed Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget in January to solicit community input about the budget. A short presentation by HCPS budget staff members will be followed by opportunities to comment and ask questions. The school division will develop a budget proposal using feedback from stakeholders. > Read more.

Glen Allen dentist offering low-cost braces to qualified children


Glen Allen-based White Orthodontics will donate more than $300,000 in orthodontic care to children of families who cannot afford the full cost of braces. Dr. Paul White and his team will host an open house Saturday, Nov. 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at their office, 5237 Hickory Park Drive in Glen Allen, to meet with interested families.

The effort is part of the national Smiles Change Lives program, which counts some 800 orthodontists nationwide among its ranks. > Read more.

Henrico Business Bulletin Board

December 2017
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Innsbrook After Hours will ring in the New Year with R&B legends Kool & The Gang at 7 p.m. Dec. 31. Party rock band The Mashup will open. The evening will include a light show and midnight ball drop.

Kool & The Gang have been performing together for 25 years and have produced hits such as “Celebration,” “Cherish” and “Jungle Boogie.” Their unique blend of jazz, soul and funk has landed them 25 Top Ten R&B hits, nine Top 10 Pop hits, two Grammy Awards and 31 gold and platinum albums.

Early bird general admission tickets are $20.17 through the end of the October. Prices will increase after that and will be $40 at the gate on New Year’s Eve. A limited number of floor passes will be available for $49, providing Dance Floor Pit access. A variety of dinner and VIP Hospitality tickets and packages are available; dining and hospitality areas will be tented and heated, and include dinner, drinks and private restrooms.

Tickets can be purchased online through http://www.ticketstobuy.com or by phone at 423-1779. For details, visit http://www.innsbrookafterhours.com. Full text

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