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Guilderland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, June 15, 2006
Albany County legislator race
By Jarrett Carroll
ALBANY After more than two years and many legal maneuvers, United States District Court Judge Lawrence E. Kahn ruled yesterday that two remaining absentee ballots in a contested Albany County legislator race be opened.
Currently the race is tied 508 to 508. The two remaining absentee ballots to be opened today will decide the race.
The contested District 29 race in Guilderlands Fort Hunter area, between Democratic incumbent Gene Messercola and Republican challenger Lee Carman, was heard in Albanys federal court yesterday morning. This decision comes after the case was heard in states Supreme Court and then the states highest court, the Court of Appeals.
The Guilderland district remained without representation for several months before the Albany County Legislature, which is dominated by Democrats, made a unanimous decision to allow incumbent Messercola to resume his post until the election debacle was resolved.
A similar situation in Colonie was resolved in court earlier this week when Republican William Hoblock was declared the winner of his district by four votes.
The two ballots that Kahn ruled to be opened on Thursday were a part of 40 absentee ballots being contested from the 2003 special election, which was postponed to April of 2004 because of a redistricting controversy taking place at the time.
The two ballots being opened are not ensured to be valid as they will have to pass Albany County Board of Election standards to be counted. Also, a valid vote for each candidate could result in another tie and would then have to be resolved by the countys legislature.
Carmans lawyer, Paul DerOhannesian, said that every vote should be counted regardless of who the vote is for.
"It was through no fault of the voters that there were errors in processing the ballots," said DerOhannesian. "That’s been our position."
When asked if there could be further delays in opening the remaining ballots and picking a winner, DerOhannesian told The Enterprise, "I can’t see any justification for not doing it tomorrow."
He also said that he and his client have been fighting for all of the votes to be counted.
"The opposition said these two votes shouldn’t be included with the original 40," said DerOhannesian, who added that voters should be entitled to their vote for any candidate.
Party enrollment in the town of Guilderland is about one-third Democrat, one-third Republican, and one-third independent or small party.
In 1999, Carman also ran against Messercola and, the day after that election, the results were too close to call as well. Messercola led Carman then by 26 votes and eventually was officially declared the winner, after absentee ballots were counted. Messercola won then by 29 votes.
The Democratic incumbent, Messercola, 67, is a life-long resident of Guilderland and has served on the Albany County Legislature since 1999 after beating Carman.
Retiring from his job as a business manager and president of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 106, after 41 years, Messercola decided to get into politics. He was a board member of the Albany County Industrial Development Agency for eight years, and is also a member of the Guilderland Elks and St. Madeleine Sophies Church.
The Republican challenger, Carman, 38, is also a life-long resident of Guilderland and holds degrees in finance and management from Clarkson University.
Carman has told The Enterprise in the past that, if elected, he would like to see the size of the Albany County Legislature reduced; even if it cost him his own job. He wants to help the county get a better hold on its budget and has proposed having county legislators hold periodic public meetings with their constituents. Carman is involved in several community groups, including the Guilderland YMCA board and its finance committee, and the Guilderland Soccer Club Board.
The problem began two years ago after the election was postponed amidst gerrymandering charges and a court battle ensued over redistricting. There was a long wait to announce the winner of the election caused by litigation over the validity of absentee ballots.
A year ago the Democrat and Republican parties again clashed over the matter. The Democrat’s lawyer claimed the GOP was manipulating the election process to "cheat the people," and the Republican’s lawyer maintained that, unless all the ballots were opened, voters would be disenfranchised and there would need to be a new election.
The Court of Appeals, in a 5-to-2 ruling, said, that although the countys board of elections was mistaken in sending absentee ballots for a special election in April to those who filed for them in November, it is a voters responsibility to question the legality of his ballot.
As a result, Democrats sued and Republicans countersued in May as both parties disputed dozens of absentee ballots cast for the special election in April. Instead of sending new absentee ballots to voters who would be out of the county that day, the countys board of elections sent ballots to those who had applied for them in the November special election.
The Court of Appeals decided that the absentee ballots were outdated and should not be counted. Republicans then took the disputed ballots to the federal court, citing an infringement on voters rights.
Kahn on Wednesday ruled the ballots were to be opened.
The large open federal courtroom yesterday morning was sparsely filled with a handful of lawyers on both sides, the judge, court clerks, and the Enterprise reporter. The atmosphere was slightly tense, but with low chatter and camaraderie heard throughout the room, and even a few light jokes from the bench.
"We’ll have to figure this out," Kahn said will a soft chuckle as he listened to both sides. "Too bad it was such a close election."
Kahn called a recess to read over paperwork submitted by both the Democrats and the Republicans lawyers and came back with a decision to open the remaining ballots within a few hours.
Residents write to swat Thruway flyover
By Jarrett Carroll
MCKOWNVILLE The McKownville Improvement Association has begun a letter-writing campaign, opposing a possible Thruway flyover.
The association has fiercely opposed a flyover through its community. The New York State Thruway Authority originally proposed the McKownville flyover, one of four plans narrowed down from 15, to link the Thruway and the Northway to alleviate ever-increasing traffic problems. The flyover would be only for E-Z Pass customers, according to the Thruways proposal.
The flyover design is not a part of the Capital Plan, according to Thruway Authority spokesperson, Sarah Kampf. The Capital Plan is the overriding transportation improvement program for the state Thruway system.
"We don’t even know if it’s a concept that’s going to be considered at this time," said Kampf, who continued, saying, a barrier-system study will be completed at the end of the year.
The barrier proposal would essentially eliminate the Exit 24 tolls by having "roundtrip tolls" collected at other nearby exits. In order to cut down on waits at tollbooths, other similar alternatives include allowing northbound traffic on the Thruway go directly onto the Northway.
Volmer Associates, an engineering firm contracted by the Thruway Authority, is conducting a study to improve the exit 23 and 24 interchange and will release a final impact statement later this year. After the study is released, Kampf told The Enterprise, a hearing will be held for public comment.
The Thruway Authority has been contacted by members of McKownvilles association, says Kampf.
The associations president, Don Reeb, created a model letter which residents can send to the governors office or the Thruway Authority.
"It is true that Exit 24 needs to be de-congested. It is also true that there are far too many accidents at and near Exit 24," Reeb wrote in the model letter. "But a Western Avenue flyover is not needed to address this problem the Albany Corridor Study identified other viable alternatives."
The McKownville association was formed in 1924, long before the Thruway or Northway were built.
Reeb contends that the flyover would negatively impact Stuyvesant Plazas commercial buildings and the homes in McKownville with increased noise and falling dirt.
Reeb told The Enterprise this week that alternatives like the barrier proposal are much more practical than constructing an "ugly and noisy" flyover across Western Avenue. Continuing, Reeb said that the Thruway is not only used for people traveling back and fourth to New York City, but that much of the traffic between exits 23 and 24 is from local commuters.
"With the flyover, you only save some confusion for E-Z Pass customers," Reeb said, calling it a "highway-in-the-sky kind of thing."
E-Z Pass is a system where drivers buy tags and place them in their cars to register Thruway use, billed later, rather than having to stop and pay tolls.
When asked if the Thruway Authority was listening to the association’s concerns and working to find the best solutions for traffic congestion, Reeb responded, "yes," stating the association has met with Thruway officials several times about the matter.
Reeb said the McKownville Improvement Association has received the support of many local and state officials in its opposition of the Western Avenue Flyover. Among them, said Reeb, are state Senator Neil Breslin, Assemblyman John McEneny, Guilderland Supervisor Kenneth Runion, all of Guilderlands town board members, and many county legislators.
"They’ve been very proactive on these issues. It means a lot to their quality of life," said Runion about the association. "[The flyover] will significantly impact the McKownville neighborhood if it is constructed."
Runion told The Enterprise that he has been in contact with the state’s Department of Transportation about the flyover’s opposition, saying, "I don’t think it’s needed."
The Thruway Authority is planning to add an extra lane between exits 23 and 24, and is expected to come out with a decision on the flyover by the first of the year, according to Reeb.
Reeb said he does not believe the flyover will be constructed.
Going Out for Summer Sounds
Musical "tributaries’ will flow into Tawasentha
By Jarrett Carroll
GUILDERLAND Tom Chapins heroes are people like Pete Seeger and Woodie Guthrie who, he says, wrote and sang real songs for real people for everyone, old, young, and in between.
Chapin will bring his voice, his guitar, and a dose of reality to Guilderland tonight to perform on the stage at Tawasentha Park.
"The whole purpose of the night is to tell stories, sings songs, and have a good time," Chapin told The Enterprise yesterday.
The free concert, which begins at 7:30 p.m., starts the summer season for the Guilderland Performing Arts Center.
Taking time out of his busy studio schedule because hes working on a new album called The Turning of the Tide, Chapin said tonights performance will be a mixed showed for both adults and children.
His new album will be for adults, he said.
"I feel they are tributaries of the same river," Chapin said about writing albums for both children and adults. Chapin’s first album, called Family Tree, catered to children and became an instant success. His own children were the inspiration for writing that album, Chapin said.
"I did the first one because I didn’t find much music for kids that age," he said, referring to children too old for "preschool" music and not old enough to listen to mainstream radio music. "My kids were that age"Boy, I thought. It would be fun to write a record that we both could enjoy."
No stranger to the area, Chapin told The Enterprise that he played in Schenectady last week and has a show at The Egg in Albany this summer, citing many visits to the area over the years.
Chapin also went to school in Plattsburgh, but grew up with his brothers in Brooklyn, he said. Chapin and his wife, Bonnie, live in downstate New York in Rockland County. Chapin has two daughters, Abigail and Lily, and two stepchildren, Jonathan and Jessica. The girls have been performing in Los Angels as The Chapin Sisters and are managed by their brother Jonathan.
"I started playing when I was 12"I’ve been doing this ever since," said Chapin.
Music runs in the Chapin family. His brother Harry Chapin wrote the well-known Cats in the Cradle.
Tom Chapin has performed for more than 30 years for audiences of all ages. Called "one of the greatest personalities in contemporary folk music" by The New York Times, and "the best family artist around" by Billboard magazine, Chapin has produced 18 albums and has received five Grammy Award nominations for best musical album for children.
Chapin has also won three Grammy Awards for best spoken word album for children, Entertainer of the Year by the American Academy of Childrens Entertainment, and numerous other awards for his music.
"The show will have a combination of songs geared for children and some songs geared for adults, but everything is age appropriate for everybody," said GPAC’s publicist Claudia Gottesman.
"They try to balance the performers," said Guilderland’s supervisor, Kenneth Runion. "I think people have a good time at the various events."
The GPAC free concert series is put on by the town of Guilderland and is sponsored by various local businesses and private donators.
"We pay for a portion of it and a portion comes from sponsorship," said Runion. "It’s almost like a community partnership."
The town has been offering free summer concerts for nearly 30 years, according to Runion, who said it started "from the day of Carl Walters."
Walters was the towns Republican supervisor during the early 1980s.
"Tom Chapin is our big one," said Gottesman, calling him a "wonderful family performer."
Chapins career has taken him to Broadway as a lead and off-Broadway as a musical director. He also hosted ABCs Make a Wish, and the documentary series, National Geographic Explorer, as well as contributing satiric topical songs to National Public Radios Morning Edition. Chapin made his big-screen debut with a cameo role in Jonathan Demmes 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate.
Now his career takes him to Tawasentha Park in Guilderland.
Playing with Chapin in Tawasentha tonight are fellow musicians John Cobert and Michael Mark.
Concerts to come
The GPAC concerts are free to the public and are performed every Thursday until Aug. 24. The stage is located at Tawasentha Park on Route 146 in Guilderland. Concert-goers are encouraged to bring blankets or chairs to sit on. Handicap parking is available. The following shows are scheduled this summer:
June 22: The Brian Patneaude Quintet For GPAC’s "Jazzing it Up!" night, this jazz band formed in 2002, was named "Best Jazz in the Capital District" by Metroland in 2003, 2004, and 2005;
June 29: The Guilderland Town Band The town’s very own 100-member band performing for its 37th summer season will put on a "Young People’s Night at the Movies," featuring scores from films like E.T., Harry Potter, The Incredibles, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Wizard of Oz, and many Disney favorites. Kathleen Ehlinger is conducting;
July 6: Skip Parsons Riverboat Jazz Band Bringing back the Big Band sounds, with six or seven musicians typically on stage, this band dedicates itself to the reproduction of early New Orleans- and Chicago-style jazz;
July 13: Annie & The Hedonists Heading the Bluegrass Night at GPAC, this band consists of four members covering an electric mix of acoustic folk, blues, bluegrass, gospel, labor ballads, and early jazz;
July 14-16 and July 21-23: Tom Sawyer: The Broadway Musical This classic musical tells the tale of Tom and Huck and Becky as teenagers, not young children, and will be performed both weekends. A musical for people of all ages, it includes songs like A Right Fine Day!, I Got Me a Girl, Come on Along!, Gotta Keep Mum, and Trouble Signs. Tickets will be sold for these shows;
July 20: The Guilderland Town Band The town band will perform, for a second time, with a concert entitled "A Menagerie of Music." This show will feature a five-year-old prodigy trumpet player, Geoffrey Gallante, who has also been featured on CBS News and Jay Leno’s Tonight Show. Kathleen Ehlinger will be conducting;
July 27: No Outlet For GPACs Blues Night, this three-member high-energy blues band will take the Tawasentha stage;
Aug. 3: Burners U.K. A self-described "high-powered, horn-fueled eight-piece band who know how to ignite a party," will be GPAC’s first August performers. Named "Best Local Cover Band," by the readers of Metroland in 2005, the Burners U.K. is a high-energy rock/pop band that can be enjoyed by people of all ages;
Aug. 10: The Guilderland Town Band The town’s band third and final show of the GPAC season will be a "Sing-Along Night." Kathleen Ehlinger will be conducting;
Aug. 17: Fear of Flying This band’s act from Saratoga County is being dubbed by GPAC as "High energy music with no boundaries"; and
Aug. 24: Hair of the Dog This GPAC season will end with Celtic Night at Tawasentha Park when this popular Irish music band takes the stage. Formed in 1992, Hair of the Dog performs a unique blend of Celtic, rock, folk, and bluegrass music, and also plays at the Altamont fairgrounds Irish Festival.
Golden proposes funds to enrich writing
By Melissa Hale-Spencer
GUILDERLAND The pressure of recent proposed budget cuts has inspired a dialogue between the English and social studies departments at the high school.
Last year, the administration proposed that English teachers teach five classes, as most other high school teachers do, rather than four, which supporters argue is necessary for a rich writing curriculum.
This year, in another cost-saving measure, the administration proposed merging the supervisor posts for the two departments.
Both proposals were ultimately rejected by the school board. Next years budget allows for the English faculty to continue to teach just four courses and it pays for separate supervisors for each department.
English teachers turned out in force this spring to speak of the importance of having their own supervisor. Long-time high-school English teacher Kathleen Sherwin told the board that the department’s rich curriculum is constantly evolving. "In the last 10 years, under our supervisor, we’ve added over a dozen new courses and 25 new books," she said, "to help our students grow as readers, writers, and literate thinkers."
Social studies teachers, too, made their case to the board for their own supervisor; they also talked about the writing involved in their curriculum and suggested they could develop popular and worthwhile electives if faculty had more time.
Ninth-grade social-studies teacher Jonathan Mapstone told the board that, in the last four years, his department has lost 1.3 teaching positions; the average load for social-studies teachers, who teach five courses, is 105 students although many have up to 145 students.
Board member Peter Golden, himself an author, pointed out earlier this spring that courses combining the disciplines of social studies and English were so popular at the high school, students were enrolled by lottery. He suggested that having the departments work together would create synergy.
When superintendent Gregory Aidala proposed forming a committee made up of both departments, he told the board it could discuss integrating writing skills across English and social studies to come up with a better plan to benefit students.
"Good writing doesn’t only take place in English," he said in April.
Board member Richard Weisz said at that time that the committee should not just focus on who teaches four classes and who teaches five but on broadening writing and cultural skills.
He said he was intrigued by comments from social-studies teachers on electives they could teach. "In a good budget year, we could add a social-studies position," he said then.
A committee is now being formed so that the two departments can discuss common issues.
At last Tuesdays board meeting, Golden asked if the board would consider making money available if the committee decided the social studies faculty should also be allowed to teach fewer courses to provide more time to develop student writing.
Golden said it was "important for teachers to know the board would support them."
Golden also urged that the curricula be synchronized, so that students are not reading Animal Farm before they have studied the Russian Revolution.
"I think you’re jumping ahead quite a bit," responded Nancy Andress, the assistant superintendent for instruction. The purpose of the committee, Andress said, is "a collaborative effort." She also said that the committee’s membership is still being finalized.
Golden persisted, asking if the board would consider extending the program.
Board President Gene Danese said that was far too premature.
Board member Richard Weisz also said it was premature to talk about money. He applauded the district for broaching interactive study and said studies had shown kids learn best when subjects including science and math as well as the social sciences and languages are woven together.
Board member Barbara Fraterrigo called it "a phenomenal opportunity for the two departments to get together and brainstorm."
"I didn’t want them to feel limited," said Golden.
"If you tell them there’s a check at the end," said Weisz, the focus becomes, "How much""
"We have to reinvigorate all of our teaching," he said.
"Exactly," concurred Andress.
In other business, the board:
Passed a bond resolution, authorizing the purchase of school buses, as approved last month in a public vote, for a cost of $828,200.
About half of the purchase of the 10 new buses is to be returned to the district as state aid in the future. Additionally, the district will buy a new plow truck;
Approved bid awards to the lowest bidder in a dozen different categories garbage, rubbish, and recyclables; rock salt and calcium chloride; art supplies; classroom and office supplies; nurses supplies; science supplies; baked goods; ice cream; cafeteria supplies; milk and dairy products; cafeteria snacks; and vending machine and associated beverages;
Accepted the donation of a keyboard and 10 violin technical study texts from Elinor Greenfield and accepted the donation of a refrigerator from Sue Klim;
Established a memorial scholarship in the name of Stacy Zounes to recognize a senior who will attend college for education or special education and who has an interest in physical fitness and has been involved in school or community clubs or school government.
Zounes, a Guilderland High School graduate who became a mother and fitness teacher, was 33 when she was killed in a car crash in 2004. This spring, her friends held the first Stacy Zounes Family Fun Run to raise money for the scholarship;
Received copies for review of three state-required district plans.
The Professional Development Plan outlines activities for administrators, teachers, and teaching assistants for 2006-07.
The SAVE (Schools Against Violence in Education) Plan outlines the districts school safety plan, emergency management plan, code of conduct, building-level emergency response plans, and professional development for violence prevention.
The Academic Intervention Services Plan describes the remedial services and support programs in English, math, social studies, counseling, and social work to help students who need it.
The board is scheduled to approve the plans at its June 20 meeting.
"Basically, there haven’t been any major changes," said Nancy Andress. The plans will be posted on the district’s website;
Heard congratulations for Meredith Best, whose paintings are part of a summer art exhibit at The Daily Grind in Troy, on display through Sept. 17;
Learned that six Guilderland teams qualified for the spring season of the 2005-06 Suburban Council Sportsmanship Awards Program boys and girls lacrosse, boys and girls track and field, softball, and boys tennis.
The awards are voted on by players, coaches, and parents from other schools in the Suburban Council;
Heard congratulations for the boys Nordic ski team, which finished in second place state-wide in the Scholar-Athlete Award Program sponsored by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.
Brighton High School, in the Rochester area, had a team that finished first with a grade-point average of 96.995; Guilderlands Nordic team was second with a GPA of 96.485; and a team from Queensbury High School was third with a GPA of 95.517;
Heard from Superintendent Gregory Aidala that the number of students projected for next fall at Guilderland and Lynnwood elementary schools is different than originally expected. And, at the high school, because of increased enrollment in business classes, plans to reduce a business teachers position will be changed to expand it, instead.
The budget has one unassigned teaching position for next year, Aidala said, which should cover the changes anticipated so far.
Board member Barbara Fraterrigo said it broke her heart that the high school wont offer an Advanced Placement, or college-level, course in computer programming next year. The mother of a student who wanted to take the course recently wrote a letter to the Enterprise editor, urging that the course be taught.
"Those are expensive classes to run," said Aidala. "I understand the arguments on both sides."
He said a minimum enrollment of 10 students is needed and the course will probably be offered every other year.
Board member Richard Weisz said it may be time to review distance learning and "reach out to other Suburban Council districts" which may also have a handful of students wanting a particular advanced course.
"That’s a good point," said Aidala;
Received copies of policies for review on the districts code of ethics; on purchasing; on district-owned cell phones; on expense reimbursement for out-of-pocket costs while traveling for school activities; on meals and refreshments served at district meetings or events; and on wellness (covered in depth in last weeks Enterprise).
The code of ethics is now to include volunteers who serve on committees. Fraterrigo, who chairs the policy committee, explained, "There’s a disclosure element, so it’s up front, so there are no hidden agendas."
"I don’t think it’s necessary," said Vice President Linda Bakst. "These committees don’t make any decisions...It’s off-putting."
"We didn’t want to learn later on someone stood to financially benefit," said Weisz. "We’re pretty lucky in this district, we haven’t had a problem"; and
Met in executive session for personnel review.
School board backs changes in retirement system, splitting vote on one resolution
By Melissa Hale-Spencer
GUILDERLAND The school board here led the way in proposing that the New York State School Boards Association lobby for state-wide changes in retirement benefits for teachers and other school employees.
A task force was formed, which met June 1 with top retirement-system officials and national experts. The next day, representatives from school boards across the state, including Linda Bakst, vice president of Guilderlands board, drafted four resolutions to be voted on at the associations fall convention.
"We really played a leadership role in getting the task force formed," said Superintendent Gregory Aidala at last Tuesday’s school board meeting. "This is the next logical step."
Setting aside its usual protocol of not voting on a resolution at the same meeting when it is first proposed, the Guilderland board voted in support of three of the four resolutions; the other resolution was defeated in a split vote, 4 to 5.
The state and federal constitutions prohibit reducing any benefits for current members, Bakst explained. The retirement systems one for teachers and another for other school employees have been well managed in New York State, she said.
The model for teachers was set up with the expectation that the employer, that is the school district, would contribute 12 percent; the system for other employees was set up with the district contributing 10 percent, Bakst said.
The percentage actually contributed by school districts has fluctuated with the health of the stock market. In recent years, until the market downturn in 2001, the amount districts contributed was often close to zero.
"There’s no opportunity to tinker with the system to smooth fluctuations," said Bakst. "There doesn’t appear to be any room for that."
Passing three resolutions, defeating one
The first resolution passed by the Guilderland board is that the state association seek legislation based on principles of portability, predictability, affordability, flexibility, and acceptable risk.
The principles, state the resolution, are "to strike a balance between providing local taxpayers and educational programs with a degree of protection from increasing and varying costs of employer retirement contributions, as well as to strengthen and broaden the existing benefit structure of retirement systems that are currently well managed and funded, yet do not fully meet the needs of a new generation of public employees."
Board member Richard Weisz, who first proposed looking at retirement benefits, termed the resolutions "vanilla" and "apple pie."
Weisz raised concerns, though, about the second resolution supporting the establishment of pension contribution reserve funds for all employees, authorizing boards to deposit surplus monies into such funds.
Weisz, who has long urged that the Guilderland School District spend more of its fund balance to ease the tax burden, said, "I’m not so thrilled about that solution but I understand why they did it."
Aidala said that being able to establish such a fund would give the district "flexibility."
"That allows us to do long-range planning," he said.
"Bureaucracies tend to use the money they get," said board member Peter Golden, who argued against the resolution.
"To me," said Weisz, "the real issue is: Will the legislature address the property-tax problems, or not""
He also said, "We want the citizens to rise up to the legislature," saying it’s not the school-districts’ fault; the tax system needs to be revamped.
"In a perfect world," responded Aidala, "that sounds great."
"The only alternative," said Weisz, "is to have fewer teachers and less programs for the kids."
"In less than 20 years," said board member Barbara Fraterrigo, "we’re going to be paying more in benefits than in salaries."
Ultimately, board members Bakst, Fraterrigo, Thomas Nachod, and Colleen OConnell voted for the resolution, supporting pension conribution reserve funds, and Catherine Barber, President Gene Danese, John Dornbush, Golden, and Weisz voted against it.
The other two resolutions passed unanimously. One is to have the association support legislation creating a new pension plan for future employees which would require employee contributions for the entire period of service.
The other is to have the association seek legislation to allow all employees to exercise an option of selecting enrollment in either an existing defined benefit retirement system or a defined contribution retirement plan currently offered to employees of the State University of New York land the City University of New York.
That resolutions rationale states that many in the new generation of employees leave school service and the current retirement systems before vesting and then receive nothing other than their own contributions.
"Just as importantly," it says, "taxpayers require transparency and predictability in retirement system costs. Defined contribution retirement plans...provide benefits that address both the additional benefits needed to attract, retain and meet the financial needs of the new generation of school district employees, as well as the financial certainty of a constant employer contribution rate."
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