Substitute teachers in Idaho public schools could be taken off the Public Employees Retirement System of Idaho (PERSI) under a proposal approved by a Senate panel Thursday. School board and administrators both support the legislation that would trim schools’ benefit contributions to PERSI for substitutes, which they say most substitutes would never collect.
“The substitute teachers in many cases did not want to participate in PERSI,” said Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert. “Yet it was requiring a deduction of their pay and it was costing the school districts money.” Substitute teachers not on contracts, those who are often called in for work the morning they are needed, would be made ineligible for PERSI. Cameron said some districts currently need to start paying into PERSI for substitutes after five months of work for the district. That extra cost led some districts not to hire those substitutes once they reached that limit.
Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, said some substitute teachers like paying into PERSI, especially if they are former full-time teachers. “I don’t think it’s quite right to say that it’s not a benefit of any kind to the teacher,” she said. She asked if teachers could have the choice to pay into PERSI, but Cameron said PERSI rules don’t allow that.
“We could not draft it in a way to make it optional,” Cameron told LeFavour. Karen Echeverria with the Idaho School Boards Association also said that she hadn’t heard of any substitutes who wanted to be part of PERSI.