Teachers' health insurance lags
I am the husband of a teacher in Hernando County. The Hernando School Board once again has shown their total and complete lack of respect for its teachers. As everyone knows, the economy has made it tough on all families trying to make ends meet financially. With the holidays approaching, many sacrifices will be made and many families will do without — unless you are a School Board member.
Hernando released the 2010 benefit premiums for insurance open enrollment outlining the board's contribution to the new health care package. Blue Cross/Blue Shield has negotiated a more than 14 percent cost increase which the school board approved. Joe Vitalo, Hernando County Teachers Association president, asked the board to put part of a $2.2 million surplus toward offsetting the increase in insurance to teachers. The School Board, specifically John Sweeney, said not a chance. Now the School Board has awarded themselves, as well as all the school administrators (secretaries, maintenance, cafeteria, etc.), a financial contribution of $248.25 per pay check towards insurance. Instructional employees (teachers) were given a contribution of $220.75 per pay check by the School Board.
Have teachers been downgraded as not as important as the non-instructional employees? Although this 2010 benefit premium schedule has not yet been approved by the board, I feel certain it will since it is the board members who will benefit. What other agency provides insurance to part-time employees?
School Board members have full-time jobs and are paid a substantial salary from Hernando County Schools for being a part-time School Board employee. Now, according to this proposal, they are also entitled to more benefits than full-time instructional employees. I feel that teachers are being discriminated against by being singled out in this proposal to receive fewer benefits than all other Hernando County School employees.
If this schedule is approved by the board, my wife will be forced to drop coverage for myself as well as our 3-year-old son. It seems to me that teachers should be considered an integral part of the education of students since they are the ones teaching them. With the release of this proposal, it is evident that teachers in Hernando County are not as important as the non-instructional employees. It seems the School Board is focusing on ensuring they, along with their families, are taken care of while ignoring the heart of any school district — the teachers.
Mark Ferrero, Hudson
Hospice cares for community
As the holidays approach, many of us will gather with family and friends. Often, these gatherings will include memories about loved ones, sharing of funny family stories and traditions that have been honored year after year. This emphasis on remembrance, so welcomed during joyful times, also plays an important role in difficult times, especially at the end of life.
November is National Hospice/Palliative Care Month and in Hernando County, HPH Hospice, formerly known as Hernando-Pasco Hospice, is celebrating 25 years of serving our community. HPH Hospice provides care to patients regardless of their ability to pay, a benefit which is extremely important during these tough economic times. We would like to thank our generous donors for their support, whether this comes through a memorial donation or supporting an event.
Studies have shown that, when faced with a life-limiting illness, most people are more concerned about the impact that it will have on their family, not themselves. By focusing on the individual, not the illness, HPH Hospice is committed to upholding the dignity of every person regardless of age, health or social status. We also fully recognize that every stage of human life deserves to be treated with the utmost respect and care.
HPH Hospice served nearly 1,500 Hernando County residents in 2008, and 390 trained volunteers gave 44,650 hours of dedicated service. Our organization's staff and volunteers understand that every person they care for is a unique individual with a lifetime of experiences, relationships and gifts to share. While our jobs are not easy, they are a privilege. HPH Hospice's teams consider caring for someone at the end of life one of the highest honors, and do all they can to ensure that the wishes of their patients and loved ones are upheld.
Tom Barb, president and CEO, HPH Hospice