A group of teachers from Elkhorn Middle School sat happily eating burgers grilled by Franklin County Schools administrators at a mid-August opening day picnic. Despite the smiles, how worried are they about changes to their pension system?
A group from Elkhorn Middle School poses with their giveaway Franklin County Schools lunch containers at the district’s opening day cookout. From left are family resource center coordinator Beckee Seals, teachers Suzanne Sadler, Kim Smitas, Deirdre Gibson and Christy Sapp, and curriculum, instruction and assessment coach Hanna Scott.
Christy Sapp, starting a second career as a new teacher at Elkhorn Middle, said she compartmentalizes. “It’s pushed away because of why I’m here – a love for learning and inspiring and guiding,” she said. “You put it on the back burner because you have to step up to whatever task is in front of you.”
Kim Smitas, a 26-year education veteran who is new to the school, said she’s taught in six districts in three states and there have been various worries with each: “We’re not here to worry about the pension. We’re here to worry about what our kids need to be successful.”
Suzanne Sadler, sixth grade science teacher with four years of experience, said she is hedging her bets. “I ended up taking a 403(b) annuity (deferred compensation) because I’m not sure the pension will be there,” she said.