Page 1

The Official Publication of the Michigan Association of Retired School Personnel JULY-AUGUST 2011 VANGUARD

Volume 69, Issue #4

Spring 2020

New ORS director works to improve substitute teacher system

Anthony Estell, Executive Director Michigan Office of Retirement Services

As a veteran of the Michigan Office of Retirement Services who on Jan. 1 became ORS’ new executive director, Anthony Estell understands all sides of the debate over retired teachers returning to public school classrooms as substitutes.

and not work at all – it sometimes catches people off guard more than they expect,” he said. “Substitute teaching can help them phase into retirement.”

judges, state police and National Guard members. He proudly notes that ORS has achieved an 88 percent satisfaction rate from retirees surveyed.

Retirees are also a rich and muchneeded source of expertise for Michigan school districts, which often scramble to find adequate supplies of substitute teachers, especially during a strong economy.

“Customer service is something that we strive to maintain and improve at all times,” he said. “I want everyone to be able to retire with dignity and with the benefits that they earned.”

At the same time, Estell said, some lawmakers are sensitive to claims that retirees might “game the system” by retiring earlier than they otherwise would and start drawing their pension while promptly returning to the school and earning a paycheck.

Under a law in effect until July 2021, teachers who retired before the 2017-18 school year are allowed to substitute without losing retirement benefits. However, the measure applies only to subs who work directly for school One of his first tasks in his new position districts, and most Michigan districts is to help craft a more permanent system use third-party contractors to find subs and those retirees will be subject to an under which school districts can employ retirees without adversely impacting the earnings limit of one-third of their final average compensation. retirement system. “A well-structured working-afterretirement program can really benefit everyone,” said Estell, noting that a handful of bills addressing the issue are now before the state Legislature. It’s ORS’ job to help legislators understand the impact of the proposed measures. Estell knows that substitute teaching, for example, can help former educators give back to their beloved profession and find focus and purpose in retirement. “To just walk out of an office one day

Estell said the hope is to reach a longterm, bipartisan solution to the issue. “We’re a long way from consensus, but at least we’re talking,” he said. “It’s a complicated issue, and we’re looking for a solution that comes as close as possible to satisfying everyone.” Estell is accustomed to satisfying people while working at ORS, a 167-person operation that administers retirement programs for Michigan’s public school employees, state employees,

The miAccount portal is designed to allow retirees to manage most matters online, but ORS also offers a call center (800-381-5111) for those who require more personal attention. Increasingly, ORS is focused on providing education and information earlier in school employees’ careers, which gained importance after multiple Public School Employees’ Retirement System changes that mean new hires have different retirement plan options, including health care, upon retirement. Estell joined ORS in 1997, shortly after graduating from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in zoology. He worked as a temp for a year before hiring on permanently as an analyst. At the time, his wife was finishing vet school at MSU and (continued on page 4)

Inside This Issue What MARSP means to me.........................4 Annual Business Meeting Update ..........7 MARSP expands digital options.............12 Annual Membership Renewal................19 MARSP Office 1-888-960-4022 www.marsp.org




President’s Message

Spring brings hope for renewal of health, energy, efforts By Robert Kucera, MARSP President r-jkucera@sbcglobal.net

Spring makes one think of renewal -- new plantings, sunny days and the promise of warmer weather ahead. As we all try to adjust to changes in the wake of the pandemic, we also look forward to the day when we can return to normal routines and lifestyles. Meanwhile, your executive director, Royce Humm, and executive board have continued to work in unison to promote and support the rights and needs of all retired public school personnel and continue to strive for the future. • MARSP promotes the preservation and enhancement of current levels of pension income through legislation, oversight of MPSERS and individual guidance to members. • MARSP promotes the preservation and enhancement of health care benefits along with timely assistance and information about member insurance. • And MARSP advocates for quality public education in a nonpartisan manner making it possible for all retirees to be involved regardless of political leanings. These issues are important for any retired public school personnel. It has been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results. So MARSP will be doing some things differently in the days to come as we work to complete our multi-year strategic plan. You will have some choices. Happiness is a choice and so is optimism and kindness. Respect is a choice, as is giving. Will you be giving to MARSP by renewing your membership asking a friend to join or volunteering in your chapter? Whatever choices you make, please choose wisely. Your future depends upon it. You are never too old for success, and we will need your help and assistance in reaching our goals. Remember, some people accomplished great things at different ages:

Stay tuned in, follow @miMARSP 2




ű Anne Frank was 12 when she wrote “The Diary of Anne Frank.” ű Magnus Carlsen became a chess grandmaster at the age of 13. ű Helen Keller, at the age of 19 months, became deaf and blind, but that didn’t stop her. She was the first deaf and blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree. ű Henry Ford was 45 when the Ford Model T was produced. ű Ray Kroc was 53 when he bought the McDonald’s franchise. ű Suzanne Collins was 46 when she wrote “The Hunger Games.” ű Charles Darwin was 50 when he published his book “On the Origin of Species.” ű Leonardo Da Vinci was 51 when he painted the “Mona Lisa.” ű John F. Kennedy was 43 when he became president of the United States. ű Neil Armstrong was 38 when he became the first man to set foot on the moon. ű Nelson Mandela was 76 when he became president of South Africa. And the list goes on... When I was young, it was easy being healthy. I was full of energy, doing things outside was fun, and I would meet physical challenges, like walking and running. But as I got older, and the spring left my step, exercise became harder, and eating and watching TV became easier. By the time I was 65, my lifestyle had changed. So as I mentioned earlier, whatever choices you make, please choose wisely. I hope this spring brings you new energy, good health and a willingness to help keep MARSP the largest school retiree association in Michigan. We need you, and you need us. Together we can achieve big things for our retirees.

Connect with MARSP on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. We’re sharing great articles, retirement tips, resources and legislative activity. Don’t miss what’s next; follow us online!


Spring 2020

Executive Director’s Message

Learning Together By Royce C. Humm, Executive Director staff@marsp.org

I was raised on a small farm in rural central Michigan by a farmer and a teacher. When I used to make a mistake, or something didn’t go as planned, I would often be asked by my parents, “What did you learn?” This question would usually drive me crazy, as it seemed like a daily occurrence, especially in my teenage days. It meant I had to process my feelings so I could apply logic. I am so grateful now to my parents, as we often are as we age, that they gifted the mindset of countunous learning to me, a mindset that something can and should be learned in life every day. With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, there can be plenty of emotional and logistical challenges to work through. A time of unknown can be daunting. It can also be an opportunity to learn. I’ve heard from our members that they are learning new technologies to engage with friends and family. Our team here at MARSP is learning how to do our work of service to members in new ways. My family is learning how to communicate and spend meaningful time together that I will cherish for the rest of my life. While there will be debates about what the new “normal” looks like and when it should begin, I believe this is an opportunity to learn, reflect and take stock in our priorities and how we want to live our lives. As always at MARSP, we are committed to our mission of protecting and enhancing the pension and health care insurance benefits for all Michigan public school retirees. The COVID-19 pandemic created questions amoung our members, and we went to the source to get some answers. Will I continue to receive my pension paycheck? Yes, you should continue to expect your pension paycheck each month on schedule. According to Anthony Estell, Director of the Office of Retirement Services, “With the recent fluctuations of the stock market, we understand the concern about receiving your pension benefit. Please rest assured that the pension plans administered by the Office of Retirement Services are guaranteed by the Michigan Constitution and are payable regardless of market conditions. You will receive your monthly pension benefits.” Will my health insurance cover COVID-19? According to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, “Telehealth services for medical visits and behavioral health is covered in full through June 30, 2020. COVID-19 testing and treatment are covered in full through June 30, 2020. The administration for the COVID test, such as doctor or hospital service to obtain the test and the COVID lab test, are covered in full.” According to Priority Health, “Your health plan will now fully cover your treatment of COVID-19 in addition to screening and testing. Your plan already covers screening, whether inperson or virtual, at $0 if your doctor orders a COVID-19 test. If a doctor orders testing based upon your screening results, the test will also be administered at no cost to you. In the unfortunate event that you or a loved one on your health plan is diagnosed with this illness, your treatment of COVID-19 will be fully covered at 100%. We will waive all copays, deductibles and coinsurance for inpatient and outpatient COVID-19 treatment from an innetwork provider through June 30.” At MARSP, we will continue to monitor the situation and update members as we learn more about the ongoing and longterm impacts of COVID-19 and answer critical questions as they arise. We will keep learning together—every day.

Spring 2020






Membership Committee Report

What does being a MARSP member mean to me? By Membership Co-Chair Lillian Jones-Thomas Membership Committee is Co-Chaired by Vicki Barnes and Lillian Jones-Thomas Spring is here! The birds are chirping, the grass is green and the sun is shining, which means it is membership renewal season here at MARSP! Renewing my annual membership is more than just paying dues; it is renewing my retirement security. Being a MARSP member gives me a sense of security, and I feel safe knowing they are advocating for me and my retirement pension. I feel secure, and I feel happy knowing that Royce Humm and his team are working hard on my behalf to secure my pension and health care benefits. He and his team continue to work with Lansing and legislators regarding our pension fund and health care benefits. Just last year, our benefits were in jeopardy, and MARSP was there to fight for us and protect them. We know this won’t be the last time, and renewing your membership allows

MARSP to fight for us and protect our benefits. MARSP also means to me that in today’s climate and not having access to the MPSERS system, MARSP is thinking outside the box to reach active employees who are saving for retirement using a 401(k) to encourage them to seek advice from MARSP financial advisers in planning for retirement and receiving health benefits for themselves and their families. MARSP has been there for me. If I need something, I contact the MARSP office and one of the wonderful staff members are always willing to help. The MARSP team has been so helpful during the current COVID-19 crisis. As I adjust to working in this new digital arena, the MARSP team has been so helpful, especially Erin Parker, events coordinator. Erin is so techy and helpful. She walked me through Zoom and got me up and running in

no time. Zoom and tools like it will allow MARSP to connect members in a digital atmosphere. Take a moment to renew your membership today and keep MARSP on your team.

Now is the time to renew your MARSP membership Online Login to your member account at www.marsp.org. Mail Fill out renewal form on last page of the VANGUARD or fill out renewal form that was mailed to you. Over The Phone Please call 1-888-960-4022 Monday through Friday 7:30am - 4:00pm.

New ORS director working to improve substitute teacher system (continued from cover)

Estell decided to stay close by, rather than leave the state for grad school. Estell held various positions at ORS before joining the leadership team in 2008. He most recently was director of the Plan Development and Compliance Division before ascending to executive director, taking over for Kerrie Vanden Bosch. Early during his ORS career he found that his analytical, scientific training served him well. “I also very fortunately discovered while working here that I had a passion for public service, and I also learned how important the work we do is,” he said. “I love being part of something that helps people retire with dignity and with the benefits that they earned.” 4

l VA N G UA R D l www.marsp.org

Spring 2020

Member Benefits Resources

Your MARSP membership includes access to resources that will help you along your retirement journey. • Quarterly VANGUARD publication • Vision E-Newsletter


MARSP fights for you and fights to keep your benefits safe. • Legislative Advocacy • Health Care Advocacy • MPSERS Advocacy


Your MARSP membership can make your purchases in retirement easier and more cost effective. • Travel • Computers • Phone • Insurance


Your MARSP membership comes with learning and training opportunities to help you understand and navigate retirement. • Annual conferences • Training workshops • Digital and print informational resources


Your MARSP state membership gives you access to a wealth of resources, expert and knowledgeable advocates, member-only discounts and a network of peers just like you.

Being part of MARSP means being part of a community of retired school personnel who are here for each other. • Connect with colleagues and friends • Volunteer opportunities

Spring 2 02 0

www.marsp.org l VA N G UA R D l 5

The Bottom Line

The Best Value Ever By Hess Bates, MARSP Treasurer hessbates@att.net

When we were children, my sister gained family notoriety (and some infamy) because she would validate anything she wanted our parents to buy for her by saying, “It’s worth it!” Our Old Dad, who could really pinch a nickel, would make a thorough rebuttal. But my sister had a point; When money is spent and value is received, that’s a fair trade. If we agree on that, then when thinking about MARSP’s annual dues, “It’s worth it,” vastly understates MARSP’s value. Throughout its seven-decade history, MARSP has provided value to its members (you can find a decade-by-decade review at marsp. org by clicking a link found on the “About Us” page). From the first issue of VANGUARD (December 1952), to repeated efforts to bolster pensions (1960s), to MARSP’s establishment of an effective lobbying presence in the state Legislature (1985), to allowing remarried retirees to name new spouses as their beneficiaries (under specific conditions, 2006), the organization’s record is clear. But if you really want a measure of MARSP’s value to its members, you need look no further than the summer of 2017. Those were dark and dangerous days for both retired and active MPSERS folks, when a concerted legislative attack was made on the Defined Benefit (DB) component of MPSERS’s pension system. In an atmosphere of crisis, many members responded to MARSP’s call to contact legislators, asking them to support MPSERS’s 6

l VA N G UA R D l www.marsp.org

DB program. Critically, MARSP leaders were invited to the table to help hammer out the compromises that led to PA 92 of 2017. The DB program was protected and exists today among the suite of retirement options available to current MPSERS workers. Why was this outcome so important? Had the DB program been closed, neither current employees nor the school districts in which they work would have continued to make contributions to MPSERS’s pension system. The State would still have been required (per the State Constitution) to meet the total pension obligations of both current retirees and the active members then vested in the DB system. The undiminished pension obligations would still have to be met, with the only source of revenue being the investment returns on the funds then held. While Michigan’s Investment Bureau is very skilled, it is not possible to meet the total pension demands (now about $5 billion per year) given only that single revenue source. During the three or four decades that MPSERS’s DB obligations would have lasted, the state would have needed about a billion additional dollars per year.

Where might the state have found such money over so long a period of time? Given a budget already struggling to meet many demands, there would have been few places to look. The most likely source for that kind of money would have been the dollars currently going to MPSERS’ retiree health care. This program now costs the state about $1 billion yearly and it exists purely at the whim of the state Legislature. Had the DB pension program been closed, within a short period of time retirees would likely have seen their health care program terminated, perhaps replaced by small stipends for use in buying coverage on the open insurance market. A similar stipend replaced health care programs for Detroit municipal retirees during the city’s bankruptcy during the Great Recession. Those retirees received only $125 per month when their health care programs were ended. The bottom line is clear. MARSP can protect its members’ benefits only through the strength of its member base and the financial support that base provides. Understand, without MARSP to speak for its members (not to mention all those other MPSERS folks who are not members), no one else is working in support of the programs on which retirees depend. It is certain: We need you and you need us! Time and again MARSP has proven its value. MARSP’s modest dues sustain MARSP and MARSP goes to bat for its members when it really counts. In short, MARSP’s dues are “worth it!” Spring 2020

2020 MARSP Meeting Updates Updates Calendar of events MARSP committees (Legislative, Finance and Membership) meet as necessary during the same week as the MARSP Board/Executive Committee. Please check with MARSP’s office for the schedule if you are interested in one of these committees. May 18 Legislative Committee meeting May 19 Membership Committee meeting

Pension Seminars

MARSP Retirement Planning Services has had to cancel our usual face-to-face seminars. In the interim, we are working on establishing virtual sessions, as well as, connecting with those who had signed up for a seminar in order to provide individual assistance. Please check the MARSP website or contact our office if you would like more information on how to get educational resources regarding pensions and retiree health care insurance programs.

May 20 MARSP Foundation Board Meeting MARSP Full Board meeting May 21 MPSERS Board meeting

MARSP State and Local Meetings The VANGUARD classified advertisement deadline is six weeks before the quarterly print date. The Summer issue ad deadline is May 15, 2020. FOR SALE: Two - Cemetery Plots (Side by Side), United Memorial - Garden of Blessing Plymouth, Michigan $3,500. Contact: Meredith at 313-933-7799. CONDO FOR RENT – Sedona, AZ. Two bedroom on golf course; fully furnished; 2020 availability: May, June, September, October and November. $1600/month. Call 989-856-3330 or 928-284-2479.

Spring 2 02 0

As we navigate the ever-changing landscape caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19), MARSP has had to postpone, cancel, or use new technologies to conduct annual business meetings. We are leveraging phone and video-conferencing technologies to conduct our state committee meetings. Most chapter and area meetings have been canceled and members notified. If you are unsure if your area meeting is taking place, visit our website, contact your chapter leadership or the state office. Many of our members receive this timely information by email. If you have not been receiving emails from MARSP and would like to be added to our mailing list, please email staff@marsp.org.

www.marsp.org l VA N G UA R D l 7

By Royce C. Humm, Executive Director staff@marsp.org

“Technology is a part of everyday life, and I am excited to help MARSP leverage technology to educate, support and connect with our members,” says Knepp. “I am excited to learn more about our members and what MARSP can do for them.” How we communicate with our members effectively and efficiently will be a significant charge for Knepp as she works with MARSP staff and leadership across the organization to maximize our communication to members and key stakeholders. Wendi earned a Bachelor of Business Please help us give a warm MARSP welcome to Administration in management from Northwood Wendi Knepp, our new communication University in Midland and is also a Certifed Trade coordinator. Her background, expertise, and passion for marketing and communications make Show Marketer (CTSM). her the perfect addition to our team. Wendi and her family reside in Williamston. Her and her husband, Brandon, have two Wendi comes to us with more than nine years children, Emerson (5) and Charleston (2). of experience supporting Michigan schools and students at Michigan Virtual. During her time at Michigan Virtual, she served the organization in various roles from accounting, customer service and then finishing up her tenure in marketing. Wendi’s expertise in communications and digital marketing will help enhance MARSP’s online presence – especially social media - to attract new members and engage current ones with timely and engaging content that makes the organization a valuable part of their lives.


l VA N G UA R D l www.marsp.org

Spring 2020

Understanding Michigan’s New Auto Insurance Law In May 2019 at the Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Michigan’s new auto no-fault law to help lower automobile insurance costs for Michigan drivers while still maintaining quality coverage.

What you need to know The new auto insurance law allows you, the consumer, to choose your level of medical coverage when your policy is issued or renewed after July 1, 2020. This allows you to select the right coverage for your lifestyle.

When Does the Law Take Effect? The current law requires you to have auto insurance that includes unlimited Personal Injury Protection (PIP) medical coverage to pay for your expenses if you are injured in an auto accident. The new auto insurance law allows you to choose a level of medical coverage when your policy is issued or renewed after July 1, 2020. If you are already receiving payments from your auto insurance policy due to injuries from an auto accident, you will continue to receive the current unlimited benefit regardless of the choice you make for the future. This is also true if you are injured in an accident between now and July 1, 2020.

Will My Auto Insurance Bill Be Lower When the Law Goes Into Effect? The new auto insurance law will allow you to choose a level of PIP medical coverage. Insurance companies are required to reduce the premium for this coverage so that there will be an average reduction per vehiclebased on the level of coverage chosen. You will also have the ability to choose different levels of Bodily Injury and Property Damage (BI/PD) coverage. This choice will also affect your premium. Your total premium and potential savings will depend on the coverages you select. A licensed insurance agent can help you select the right coverage options for your budget.

How Will I Know What Choices I Have and What to Choose? The new law requires that auto insurance agents and auto insurance companies give you forms that describe the benefits and risks of the coverage options. The Department of Insurance and Financial Services encourages you to shop around for a policy that fits your needs. You may also want to talk with an auto insurance agent to discuss your personal auto insurance needs.

For more information visit.michigan.gov/autoinsurance State of Michigan. (2020). Michigan’s New Auto Insurance Law (When does the law take effect?, Will my auto insurance bill be lower when the law goes into effect?, How will I know what choices I have and what to choose?) Retrieved from www.michigan.gov/autoinsurance

Spring 2 02 0

www.marsp.org l VA N G UA R D l 9

Member Profile

Sherry Warden: Washtenaw Chapter’s workhorse One thing Sherry Warden didn’t count on when she retired from teaching in 2009 was leading a local retiree chapter. Three years later, she became president of the MARSP Washtenaw County Chapter, after the incumbent chair resigned. In the eight years since, with much help from fellow members, Warden has raised the chapter’s public profile and has seen its clout in Lansing strengthened. “Sherry Warden is an experienced and conscientious leader who is responsible for the success of our chapter,” says fellow Washtenaw Chapter member and legislative ambassador John Baublit. “I volunteer because Sherry gives excellent backup and support. She makes volunteering easy, effective and enjoyable.” Warden credits the late Frank Green, a chapter member and area director, for the initial spark getting members more involved in state policymaking. She continued his efforts to knit close relations with state lawmakers who represent Washtenaw County.

Chapter holds four membership meetings each year at Weber’s Inn in Ann Arbor. The luncheons typically draw 60 to 100 members who are encouraged to bring along potential new members. Warden says recruiting new members to MARSP is a constant challenge, especially younger retirees. “A lot of people haven’t even heard of us,” she says. She says her chapter has a solid membership structure that welcomes newcomers. “If you can get people to come, don’t give them too much to do at first,” she says. “Every now and then someone just shows up and says, ‘I want to see what this is all about.’ And they just stay.” A hearing-impaired specialist for 40 years, Warden retired in 2009 as a teaching consultant for the Washtenaw County Intermediate School District. She taught preschool and high school hearing-impaired students in Ann Arbor schools. She earned a bachelor’s degree in speech correction at the University of Michigan and a master’s degree at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

“We’re fortunate to have very strong legislative ambassadors,” Warden says.

“We’re fortunate to have very strong legislative ambassadors”

With about 1,000 dues-paying members, the MARSP Washtenaw County

Sherry Warden leads a group discussion at a Washtenaw County MARSP Chapter meeting.


Warden oversees the chapter newsletter, which keeps members up to date on activities. The chapter also sponsors community service projects such as donations to homeless youth

l VA N G UA R D l www.marsp.org

Sherry Warden presents to a group of MARSP members.

and child literacy, scholarship programs for community college students, and the DonorsChoose.org program, which targets member donations to specific classrooms around Michigan. Every two years before state elections, Washtenaw Chapter sponsors candidate forums that allow audience members to hear and question candidates for four state House seats and two Senate districts that represent the area. “We usually get all of the major candidates to come,” Warden says. “They answer questions given to them in advance, usually about education, pensions and retirement. Most candidates are well-informed.” The Washtenaw Chapter has 19 board members, including four legislative ambassadors who are charged with meeting state representatives in the districts and at least once a year at the state Capitol in Lansing. “Since we have a large board of directors, the chair’s task of conducting board meetings is very challenging. However, she always orchestrates effective meetings,” Baublit notes. “She is gifted with exceptional leadership skills, and she is just a workhorse.”

Spring 2020

Chapter Profile

Kalamazoo Chapter excels through outreach, community involvement It’s not by mere chance the MARSP Kalamazoo County Chapter has 1,500 members and last year collected more than $5,000 in scholarship money for local college and trade school students. Creative public outreach, regular luncheons with guest speakers and a travel program combine to make membership an attractive choice for retired school employees. Founded in 1967, the Kalamazoo County Chapter provides counseling on insurance and other retirement-related issues and sponsors informational meetings for current school employees who are near retirement. It’s built relationships with state lawmakers to promote issues important to members, such as maintaining strong state pensions and health care benefits. One perk is annual bus trips to such destinations as Frankenmuth, Detroit, Chicago, Toronto and Tennessee. “We survey members to see what they’re interested in,” says Bob Kucera, the Kalamazoo County Chapter website editor. “It makes it easy to travel, we don’t have to worry about parking and driving and such. We work with a travel agency in Grand Rapids.” Nine Kalamazoo County Chapter luncheon meetings during the year feature guest speakers on topics of particular interest to members, and even musical acts. The Beacon, the quarterly newsletter of the Kalamazoo County Chapter and is packed with useful information too. “We keep up two-way communication between our board and our members,”

Spring 2 02 0

Kucera says. The luncheons typically draw about 100 people and speakers are afterward ranked by members in a survey. Kucera says most recently the chapter invited local school superintendents to speak about what’s happening in their districts. Member donations fill the annual student scholarship fund. When scholarships are given at a June ceremony to graduating seniors, the winners address the crowd. “Their speeches are wonderful and so inspiring,” says Kalamazoo County Chapter president Julie Devers. “We give $1,500 to each recipient.”

Kalamazoo County Chapter packs cookies for local police and fire departments.

The Kalamazoo County Chapter also promotes various nonprofit organizations that assist children. Members donate to various nonprofits throughout the year. Last year they collected $579 for Warm Kids, $540 for Seita, $512 for First Day Shoe fund, $257 for Generous Hands and $317 for the YWCA Domestic Assault Fund. Members Betty Ongley and Ken Larson keep tabs on legislation that affects retired school personnel, and talk to state lawmakers who represent the Kalamazoo region.

“It takes active communication with legislators, they get to know you, you get to know them and it helps when you’re advocating for public education and teachers. It pays to be known and trusted.” Ongley says she and Larson report on Lansing happenings to the Kalamazoo County Chapter board and at the chapter’s membership luncheons. The two also report developments of interest in the monthly Kalamazoo County Chapter newsletter. In December, Kalamazoo County Chapter members donated thousands of cookies to 21 agencies and 14 members who are unable to get out much around Kalamazoo County at Christmas time. The chapter has delivered cookies and a framed certificate of appreciation to local police and fire departments as a show of appreciation. “We try to get our name out there and at the same time show our appreciation for first responders,” says Devers. Devers, a 2014 retiree from Kalamazoo Public Schools, says the Kalamazoo County Chapter board of 26 members seems large, but it generates enthusiasm among more people. “The more people who come to board meetings, the more they get involved and excited about our many activities,” Devers says. “Everyone is so willing to step in and help one another. I am impressed by the generosity of all of our KARSP members, whether they attend meetings or not. They amaze me.”

“They’re all friends of mine,” says Ongley, a former mayor of Portage.

www.marsp.org l VA N G UA R D l 11

MARSP expands #digital options In an effort to communicate to our members in a timely manner, MARSP has expanded digital options. Keeping you “our valued members” informed is one of our most important responsibilities. In order to provide you with up-to-date and timely information, MARSP is, and will continue to be, sending emails to those members who have provided emails to us. We will also communicate to our members via social media. If you wish to start receiving digital communications, please email us at staff@marsp.org to have your email address added to your member record.

Find us on social media facebook.com/miMARSP twitter.com/miMARSP

The following communications were sent to those members with email addresses. To read the full article please visit our website, www.marsp.org/news.

Executive Director’s Blog: The need for certified subs in classrooms published February 10, 2020 Knowing that many of you continue to be concerned about quality education in Michigan, I wanted to draw your attention to a study done recently by Bridge Magazine, a respected publication which follows education policy issues. The study, titled “No Substitute,” suggests the state could reduce its reliance on long-term, uncertified substitutes and says a majority of the public supports that move. The study also mentions that the public supports a change in state law so that retired teachers can substitute teach without diminished retirement benefits. It’s a fact that many Michigan school districts rely on uncertified, long-term substitute teachers to fill classroom vacancies. MARSP supports the recruitment of well-trained substitutes, along with pay and benefits that attract more full-time teachers to schools in the first place. ...Continued at www.marsp.org/news.

The Basics of Medicare from MPSERS & Blue Cross Blue Shield published February 13, 2020 Watch the full video on the basics of Medicare presented by MPSERS and Blue Cross Blue Shield at www.marsp.org/news.


l VA N G UA R D l www.marsp.org

Spring 2020

MPSERS & Blue Cross Blue Shield 2020 Medical Plan Seminar for Medicare and NonMedicare PPO Members published February 14, 2020 Watch the full Michigan Public School Employees’ Retirement System 2019 Fall Seminar presented by Geneviève Johnson with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan visit: www.marsp.org/news

MARSP & COVID-19: Staff is continuing to serve our members’ needs published March 20, 2020 MARSP members are in our thoughts as we navigate the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the uncertainty it has created. Although we’ve made some necessary changes to the way we live and work, the MARSP staff is continuing to serve our members’ needs. Because your continued good health is part of the MARSP mission, we wanted to share best practices and perhaps answer questions you may have. Many of you are in the age group that is identified as being most at risk for contracting the virus, but keep in mind that you also benefit from several factors that tend to keep you healthy. • • •

You are likely already paying attention to trusted health care sources and adhering to recommendations to stay home and limit exposure to even small groups of people who unknowingly may carry the virus. As retirees, your stress levels are generally lower, which is one of the most important factors in keeping you healthy. You tend to take advantage of preventive health care options available to you as part of your retiree benefits.

...Continued at www.marsp.org/news.

MARSP and the Office of Retirement Services (ORS) are working for you during COVID-19 published March 27, 2020 The MARSP Team continues to work on your behalf during the virus outbreak, we wanted to reassure you about some concerns you may have about your pension payments. We have been communicating with the Office of Retirement Services (ORS) and can confirm that your March pension payment is not affected. Your upcoming pension payments will arrive on schedule – on April 24, May 22 and June 25. Direct deposit paper statements, which are normally mailed quarterly, may be delayed due to delays in gathering data and printing and not necessarily related to the virus outbreak. As a reminder that if you want to receive your direct deposit statement electronically instead of by mail, log in to miAccount and review the tab labeled “Member Communications” on the left-hand side of the screen. ORS strongly encourages members to choose the electronic statement option, which allows more frequent access to the information and saves printing and mailing costs for the entire system. ...Continued at www.marsp.org/news.

MARSP is here for you published April 8, 2020 As we all continue to adjust to changes in our lives as a result of COVID-19, we know that many of you may be experiencing difficult challenges due to isolation, reduced contact with friends, loved ones and your community. We care about you and want you to be connected and informed in an ever-changing landscape. MARSP will continue to work on behalf of our members during the COVID-19 outbreak and MARSP can be a valuable information source and can help if you have questions or encounter problems. • • •

Our foundation offers financial assistance to members in need. Staff members act as liaisons if you have trouble obtaining necessary health care services or medications. Stay tuned for upcoming communications as we continue to monitor the current situation in Lansing, and how this could potentially impact the MPSERS pension fund.

...Continued at www.marsp.org/news.

Spring 2 02 0

www.marsp.org l VA N G UA R D l 13

Contributions to the MARSP Foundation

Contributions to MARSP Dec. 1, 2019 – Feb. 29, 2020 Contributions to MARSP include donations to the General Fund. From Members Bailey, Carol – Kalamazoo Barksoale, F.E. – Wayne Detroit Bianchini, Dora – Oakland North Carpenter, Irene – Wayne Metro Gosik, Patricia – Oakland Suburban Gunter, Evelyn – Wayne Detroit Judd, Lee – Wayne Metro Major, Henrymae – Wayne Detroit McMahon, Lorna – Cheboygan Orris, Frederick – FL Suncoast Sutter, Robert – Wayne NW Williams, Calvin – Oakland Suburban In Memoriam from Members Cramton, Leonal – from Anne Cramton Feddersen, Rick – from Janet Feddersen In Memoriam from Chapters Branch – Doris Kehoe

VBDF contributions Dec. 1, 2019 – Feb. 29, 2020 The MARSP Board of Directors expresses SINCERE thanks to every member and chapter listed below for the contributions from December 1, 2019, to February 29, 2020, to the MARSP Voluntary Benefit Defense Fund (VBDF). The fund will be used to initiate and/or participate in legal battles that may be necessary to protect Michigan school retirees’ benefits over the next few years. To date, the fund has been used to educate legislators regarding defined contribution and graded premium insurance subsidy legislation; to research and investigate defined contribution and other plans in other states; to purchase the software needed to provide an effective grassroots


Dec. 1, 2019 – Feb. 29, 2020 Contributions to the MARSP Foundation include donations to the following funds: Scholarship Fund, General Fund, Richard and Margaret Smith Fund and the MARSP Foundation Endowment Fund. From Members

Peters, Clarice – Crawford-Oscoda Redwine, Carole – Kent Taylor, Craig – Ottawa Tutelian, Edward – Monroe South Vanecek, Catherine – Wayne NW In Honor of, from Members Marriage of Jane Curtis and Bill Haug – from Chrysteen Moelter-Gray In Memory of, from Chapters Cass – Mildred Hillman Charlevoix – Mary Schank, Maxine Bergman and Maryann Dan Shiawassee – Larry Bulemore

Bailey, Carol – Kalamazoo Bancroft, Beverly – Wayne NW Bock, Julianna – Oakland Suburban Brown, Jessie – Ingham-Greater Lansing Bruinsma, Rose – Barry Ford, Julia – Oakland North Gerber, Lila – Shiawassee Gilmer, Thomas – Allegan Gosik, Patricia – Oakland Suburban Hansen, Marjorie – Ionia Harris, Suzanne – Macomb North Jackson, Regina – Wayne Detroit Jerzylo, Rosemarie – MARSP Krause, Evelyn – Wayne Detroit Monticello, Judith – Houghton-Keweenaw network; to provide written information to legislators; and other activities necessary to the protection of school retiree benefits. From Members Armstrong, Jacquelyn – St. Clair Barksdale, F.E. – Wayne Detroit Barnett, Karen – Wayne Metro Bauhof, Virginia – MARSP Ceno, Beverly – Genesee SE Davita-Siegel, Diane – Wayne NW Evans, John – Bay Area Febey, Barbara – Crawford-Oscoda Frederick, Janice – St. Clair Gosik, Patricia – Oakland Suburban Hager, Aisha – Wayne Downriver Hansen, Marjorie – Ionia Jones, Cara – Ingham-Greater Lansing Kalnbach, Lynne – Luce/Tahquamenon Kubisch, Nancy – MARSP Longcore, Judith – Oakland Farmington Massimino, Thomas – Macomb East McMahon, Lorna – Cheboygan Ostrander, Donald – Roscommon

l VA N G UA R D l www.marsp.org

Peterson, Daryl – Alpena Siegel-Davita, Diane – Wayne NW Stanowski, Rene – Washtenaw Stapleton, Mary – Wayne NW Sutter, Robert – Wayne NW Tangenberg, Wilma – MARSP Tober, Robert – Berrien Valley, William – Lapeer Wysner, Mary – Wayne Detroit In Honor of, from Members Barone, Marilyn – from William Barone Cramton, Leonal – from Anne Cramton Hunt, Bob – from Michael Munn Keim, Hal – from Frederick Gewirtz Robbins, Francis – from Robert Wiles Williams, Dan – from Elaine Gewirtz In Memory of, from Chapters St. Joseph – Kenneth Arend

Spring 2020

Founder Level

Contribution Form


Cornerstone Level

Plan your future. Protect your future.


PO Box 23214, Lansing, MI 48909-3214

Honorary Director $500

I am in support of the MARSP Foundation and wish to make a contribution. (Contribution may be tax-deductible)

Member Shareholder


Make check payable to: MARSP Foundation Inc.

Make your check made payable to: MARSP Mail to: PO Box 23214, Lansing, MI 48909-3214 VBDF (Voluntary Benefit Defense Fund) to be used for the

Member Participant

(Please do not combine with MARSP Dues)

legal defense of school retiree benefits.

$1 to $299

General Fund to assist the finance committee in meeting expenses for the current budget year.

Fund Choice: Scholarship Fund - To be used to help active public school employees with tuition costs to further their education. General Fund - To be used toward the Foundation mission. Richard and Margaret Smith Fund - To be used to assist less fortunate members with financial needs such as prescription copays, medical expenses, heating expenses, etc. Endowment Fund - Interest only to be used for Foundation programs.

Name Address City



Name Phone

Address City Phone Chapter Name



Chapter Name In Honor of or in Memory of

MARSP members who renewed their annual membership before March 31, 2020, were entered into an early bird renewal drawing for a $100 Visa gift card. The Early Bird Renewal winner is: Dawnell Kennedy of Free Soil, Michigan Previous MARSP members who rejoined the organization were entered into a rejoining MARSP drawing for a $100 Visa gift card. The Rejoining Member winner is: Tim Daniel of Northville, Michigan

Spring 2 02 0

www.marsp.org l VA N G UA R D l 15

In Remembrance Dec. 1, 2019 – Feb. 29, 2020

“... these immortal dead, who live again in minds made better by their presence.”

Michigan Alma Katharyn Morley Armada Gilbert Chilcote Auburn Hills Isabelita Ortiz Bangor Robert Zantello Battle Creek Donna Myer Berkley Mary Kohn Bloomfield Hills Margaret Lay Bronson Doris Kehoe Bruce Crossing Edward Applekamp Cadillac Eileen Ball Richard Scheanwald Cedar Juanita Lautner Chelsea Mary Lou Rigg Clawson Elaine Meyer Clinton Twp Lloyd Racine Clinton Twp. Nora Jean Scheys Corunna Larry Bulemore Croswell Sally Bassett Detroit Edward Causey Ellen Johnson Eula Ollison East Tawas Patricia Mielke Escanaba Linda Dlugas William Sauter


Farmington Hills Gerard McMaster Fenton Jean Hovarter Ferndale Gwen Pusilo-Bell Fife Lake Barbara Simone Flushing Margaret Mosher Shirley Daughenbaugh Fraser Mona Jones Freeport Leebella Geiger Gladstone Billie Marmalick Gladwin John McKenney Grand Rapids Gordon Johnson Helen Wade James Swanlund Vera Weaver Greenbush Mary Lynn Kraft Greenville Dorothy Oliver Eugene Rydahl James Bedor Grosse Pointe Woods Dolores Appleton Margaret Wittwer Hancock B Frank Sager Harrison Twp William Edmunds Hastings Diana Johnston Hessel Sharon Mehlenbacher Highland James Klausmeyer Hillsdale Ila Dryer Holland Zella Vandenbrink Hubbard Lake Herbert Ratz Hudsonville Ruthann Bouws Inkster Rosa Chisholm Jackson V Conway Oren

l VA N G UA R D l www.marsp.org

Kalamazoo David Reddy Kentwood Frances Patterson Lake City Gardner Vanderstow Shirley Weston Lakeland Carol Baker Livonia Calvin Heard Carol Dubuque John Gelmisi Ludington Molly Kus Madison Heights John Hobbs Manistee Marilyn Field Manton Royce Nye Marysville William Rock Mason Marie Lyons Menominee Marvin Mayer Midland Willi Ewing Millersburg Olin Gould Mount Clemens Michael Fitzpatrick New Baltimore Roseline Connors North Street Ann Cleaver Northville William Greenman Norton Shores Edward Holovka Paw Paw Penelope Mcnellis Pigeon Clarence Schadd Plymouth Helen Kallie Port Huron Phyllis Pipwe Portage Burnadean Trimner Mary Case Rockford Harold Kelly Rogers City Eleanore Schultz

Royal Oak Dennis Burns Peter Mangiaracina Rudyard Janice Wallis Saginaw Clyde Tobin John Johnson Margaret Brown Willie Allen Sault Sainte Marie Larry Cooper Southfield Barbara Birch Tracey Martin St. Charles George Giddings Rosella Nichols St. Clair Margie Limberg St. Clair Shores Mary Stanek Richard Toenjes St. Joseph Mildred Hillman Stanton Mary Drobish Sterling Hgts. Paul Mandziara Stevensville Sally Dombroski Sturgis Kenneth Arend Taylor Willard Callihan Temperance Violet Renius Three Rivers Dianne Schull Traverse City Ann Cooper Diane Larson Janice Hurschmann Susan Girard Trenton Joan Ford Troy Dora Scarafino Wallace Cleland Methner Warren Deanna Howell Rudolph Stephanic Waterford Donald Maxwell

Out-of-State Arizona Sun City West John Eloff California San Diego Marie Laeding San Marcos David Church Florida Boca Raton Petru Lupsor Fort Myers Ingeborg Natoli Ronald Layman Lady Lake Judith Martin Port Charlotte Joseph Gamache The Villages Robert Williams Zephryllis Jacqueline Near Illinois Elmhurst Gerard Putz Lake Forest Jack Roderick Indiana Carmel Maryterese Bristol

Spring 2020

“ During these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever that you have coverage.” Joan Budden, President and CEO

Stay safe. Stay covered.

Usually this time of year, we tell you about our affordable plans that include top-notch travel coverage. Right now, however, your travel itinerary probably seems grounded. But that’s okay, because what’s important is that you’re covered, safe and healthy. When the world is ready once again to make travel plans, we’ll be ready to talk health plans. In the meantime, the only plan is to get through this together.

For COVID-19 resources, go to priorityhealth.com/covid-19. To learn more about our Michigan Public School Employee Retirement plans, go to priorityhealth.com/mpsers.

Priority Health has HMO-POS and PPO plans with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Priority Health Medicare depends on contract renewal. Priority Health complies with applicable federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability or sex. ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1.888.389.6648 (TTY: 711). .(711 :‫ (رقم هاتف الصم والبكم‬1.888.389.6648 ‫ اتصل برقم‬.‫ فإن خدمات المساعدة اللغوية تتوافر لك بالمجان‬،‫ إذا كنت تتحدث اذكر اللغة‬:‫ملحوظة‬ H2320_NCMS400040022003D_C 04132020 ©2020 Priority Health 10610A1 04/20

Referring a friend or spouse could make you a winner too MARSP members who refer a friend, former colleague or spouse/pension beneficiary are entered into a monthly drawing for a $25 Visa® gift card, as well as the grand prize drawing of a trip for two to Mackinac Island!

The $25 Visa® gift card referral winners are: • Jocelyn Bergsted for Barbara Hoffmeyer referral. • Christian Nagel for Michael Poterala referral. • Eva Curtis for Margaret Bacon referral.

MARSP members referred 79 new or former members from Sept. 1, 2019 to Nov. 30, 2019.

The 79 referrals have the following chapter associations: 1-5 referrals: Alpena, AZ- Tucson/Green Valley, Baraga, Bay Area, Berrien, Charlevoix, Clare, Clinton, CrawfordOscoda, Delta, FL-Lee County, Genesee, Genesee Southeast, Gladwin, Grand Traverse, Hillsdale, Ionia, Kalamazoo, Kent, Livingston, Macomb East, Macomb North, Marquette, Menominee, Newaygo, Oakland Farmington, Oakland North, Oakland Suburban, Osceola, Ottawa, Presque Isle, Saginaw, Shiawassee, St. Clair Blue Water, Washtenaw, Wayne Downriver, Wayne Metro, Wayne Northwest and WexfordMissaukee.

Chapter Dues List: MARSP: $35 Michigan: Alger: $5 Allegan: $5 Alpena: $5 Baraga: $5 Barry: $7 Bay-Northern Bay Arenac: $10 Bay Area: $10 Berrien: $9 Branch: $5 Calhoun: $6 Cass: $6 Charlevoix: $5 Cheboygan: $5 Chippewa-Mackinac: $5 Clare: $5 Clinton: $5 Crawford-Oscoda: $5 Delta: $5 Dickinson: $5 Eaton: $7 Emmet: $10 Genesee: $7 Genesee Southeast: $7 Genesee West: $7 Gladwin: $5 Gogebic: $10 Grand Traverse: $10 Gratiot: $6 Hillsdale: $5 HoughtonKeweenaw: $3 Huron: $5 Ingham-Greater Lansing: $10 Ionia: $10


Iosco-Alcona: $5 Iron: $10 Isabella: $10 Jackson: $7 Kalamazoo: $10 Kent: $10 Lapeer: $6 Leelanau: $10 Livingston: $5 Luce County/ Tahquamenon: $10 Macomb East: $5 Macomb North: $8 Manistee: $7.50 Marquette: $5 Mason-Lake: $10 Mecosta-Canadian Lakes: $10 Menominee: $5 Monroe South: $5 Montcalm: $5 Muskegon: $15 Newaygo: $7 Oakland Farmington: $6 Oakland North: $7 Oakland Suburban: $6 Oceana: $10 Ogemaw: $6 Ontonagon: $5 Osceola: $5 Otsego: $10 Ottawa: $5 Presque Isle: $10 Roscommon: $10 Saginaw: $7 Schoolcraft: $7

l VA N G UA R D l www.marsp.org

Shiawassee: $5 St Clair: $8 St Joseph: $8 Tuscola: $5 Van Buren: $10 Washtenaw: $10 Wayne Detroit: $12 Wayne Downriver: $10 Wayne Metro: $5 Wayne Northwest: $8 Wexford-Missaukee: $7



VANGUARD is the official publication of the MICHIGAN ASSOCIATION OF RETIRED SCHOOL PERSONNEL (MARSP) Circulation: 38,000



3645 E. Jolly Road

Royce C. Humm

NW Valley of Sun: $8 Tucson/Green Valley: $5

PO Box 23214


Lansing MI 48909-3214

Mandy Hitsman

Phone Numbers 1-888-960-4022 517-337-1757 Fax Number 517.337.8560

Publication Management

Colorado: Colorado Chapter: $10

Florida: Char-Sota: $5 Greater Daytona: $10 Heartland: $5 Lee County: $5 Southwest Gulf Coast: $5 St. Petersburg: $5 Sun Coast: $7 Tallahassee/South Georgia: $1 Tri-County: $5


Email staff@marsp.org Homepage http://www.marsp.org Office Hours Monday – Friday 7:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. 12:00 noon-4:00 p.m. Send all material for publication to the MARSP Office

Lezotte Miller Public Relations Inc. MARSP Officers Robert Kucera - President Steve Gordon - Vice-president Paul B. Lerg - Past-president Hess Bates - Treasurer Speedy Bates - Secretary Royce C. Humm - Executive Director

Due to production time, each issue of the VANGUARD is written about four weeks before publication. Therefore, some of the information may be updated by the time you receive each issue.

Tennessee East: $5

Spring 2020

Membership Renewal Form ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Member Name

Email address


Amount Enclosed (see address label on reverse for total due)

Payment Options:

Credit Card (Visa, MC, AmExpress, Discover)

___________________________________________________________ Card Number Exp. date CVV

___________________________________________________________ Name as it appears on card



___________________________________________________________ Cardholder signature

Phone number

Check enclosed Auto Renewal I authorize MARSP to automatically renew my State and Local Chapter (if applicable) Membership the first week of March each year beginning in 2021 using the credit card information provided on this form. Email required.

*Please note that credits/overpayment less than annual dues amount will be considered a contribution to MARSP.

Spring 2 02 0

www.marsp.org l VA N G UA R D l 19

Michigan Association of Retired School Personnel 3645 E. Jolly Road P.O. Box 23214 Lansing, MI 48909-3214



Lansing, MI Permit No. 1114

1-888-960-4022 www.marsp.org

Legislative Committee Report

Legislature considers tax changes for widows, widowers By Legislative Co-Chairs Chuck Abshagen and Georgia Sharp

Legislators passed HB 4171 on March 27, 2020, creating Public Act 65 of 2020 amending the Income Tax Act to allow certain widows/widowers to claim certain allowable tax deductions that would have applied to their late spouses if they were still alive. HB 4171 was originally introduced by Rep. Julie Alexander (R-Jackson). The Michigan Association of Retired School Personnel has been in support of this bill and its cause from its infancy. You can review the bill’s information at the following link: http://legislature.mi.gov/ doc.aspx?2019-HB-4171 We are also watching as the state’s budget process unfolds. On Jan. 29, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in her State of the State address outlined priorities

for this year. On Feb. 6, State Budget Director Chris Kolb introduced the governor’s budget proposal. We are encouraged that the proposal continues to increase resources to ensure the financial stability of the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS). Unfortunately, we do not see an allocation for repealing the pension tax enacted in 2011, but we will continue to advocate for our members on this issue. The budget process is now in the hands of the Legislature, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, the timeline may be impacted. We still expect counter proposals sometime during late spring or early summer, in order to meet the goal of a state budget finalized by

July, 1. Knowing that MPSERS funding was a part of the budget discussion last year, we will carefully monitor the process to advocate on behalf of our members. While our pension has state constitutional protections, our health care insurance does not and so vulnerable to legislative action. The Legislative Committee encourages all members to continue to promote the value of a MARSP membership. Try to reach out to those who may not currently be members. The more members we have, the more strength and political clout we will have as an organization.

Profile for MARSP