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Portrait of Senator Gary Wilken Session:
State Capitol, Room 514
Juneau, AK 99801-1182
Phone: (907) 465-3709
Fax: (907) 465-4714
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Wilken Bill Fixes Retirement Inequity For Non-Certified School Employees
Senate Bill 9 Passes Legislature and Goes to Governor For Signature

For Immediate Release: May 3, 1999
Contact: Senator Gary Wilken at (907) 465-3709.

Juneau -- The State House Friday unanimously passed a measure that would correct an inequity in the way retirement benefits are calculated for non-certified school employees. The bill now goes to Governor Tony Knowles for signature before becoming law.

"Certified teachers get one full year of credit toward retirement when they complete the nine-month school year. Non-certified employees receive credit for the actual time served in the system, usually nine months," said Senator Gary Wilken (R-Fairbanks), sponsor of Senate Bill 9. "Therefore, each working year contains a three-month gap where retirement benefits do not accrue. As a consequence, a non-certified employee having worked for 30 years, and seemingly eligible to retire, is faced with only 22.5 years of accrued retirement benefits," Sen. Wilken said. Representative Tom Brice (D-Fairbanks), who sponsored similar legislation in the House, agreed: "Our school secretaries and maintenance workers shouldn't have to work 40 years for a 30 year retirement. Addressing this basic inequity is a priority."

Senate Bill 9 would allow non-certified employees to contribute to their retirement account to reflect a year's service.

"Senate Bill 9 affords them that option at their expense," said Sen. Wilken. "It is a completely voluntary program, paid for by the members themselves, thus adding no on-going financial burden to the State or to the local school districts," Sen. Wilken said.

Non-certified employees, referred to as "classified" employees in many school districts, include custodians, cafeteria workers, teachers' aides, and administrative staff. They typically work the same schedule as teachers, from September to May.

"This legislation speaks to fairness," said Sen. Wilken. "It demonstrates the appreciation that all Alaska's school support staff deserve." If signed by the Governor, the new law will take effect July 1, 1999.

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