New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - May 7, 2004, New Braunfels, Texas
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Vol. 153, No. 153 12 pages, 2 sections
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Funding bill would eliminate TARS test
New Braunfels High School Physics teacher K.D. Ziarkowski talks with sophomore Mia Bakken in class Thursday afternoon. Ziarkowski supports legislation proposed by state Rep. Carter Casteel, R-New Braunfels, that would reinstate a $1,000 health insurance supplement for teachers.
Unhealthy hit to teachers’ pockets
■ CISG — pays $225/month, employee pays remaining
■ Employee only: $38.50
■ Employee + spouse: $341
■ Employee + children: $166.10
■ Employee + family: $468 60
■ NBISD - pays $280/month, employee pays remaining
■ Employee only: $8853
■ Employee + spouse: $566.53
■ Employee + children: $351.53
■ Employee + family: $638.53
By Leigh Jones
Most teachers do not choose their profession based on the pay and benefits.
K.D. Ziarkowski, physics and chemistry teacher at New Braunfels High School, said he left a 14-year career in retail and financial management because he wanted to do something important.
“I’m here for the kids, not the money," he said. “I like to get up and go to work every morning. Teaching is an important job.”
On the other hand, Ziarkowski has to pay his bills, including ever-increasing health insurance costs.
In 2001, the state Legislature voted to assist teachers with a $1,000 health insurance supplement.
“When they first gave it to us, it helped me out a lot,” Ziarkowski said “It covered co-pays, dental plans and prescriptions.”
Because the money was added directly to teachers’ paychecks, it could be used for anything they wanted.
The next year, the state reduced the
supplement to $500 for teachers, $250 for part-time district employees and eliminated principals’ and administrators’ assistance altogether.
“Now they want to take that $500 and make it hard for us to get at," Ziarkowski said. “And, we'll be paying someone millions of dollars to manage it for us.” In 2003, legislators enacted MB 3257, creating health reimbursement accounts where the supplement will be stored beginning Sept. I.
Aetna Insurance was selected to manage the accounts and stands to earn roughly $21 million from 600,000 Texas teachers.
“At the point the account is activated by the first withdrawal, Aetna will initiate a $2 per month fee,” said Sandy Hill, New Braunfels Independent School District executive director of business and support services. “If the teacher chooses to request a debit card to access his or her account, Aetna will charge an additional $1 per month.”
Ziarkowski said he and other teachers would rather have seen the $21 million spent on Texas children.
“Most teachers that I’ve talked to here agree that they should have just taken the $500 away,” he said. “Then Aetna is not making a lot of money, and hopefully, it would go somewhere else in education.”
Hill and Ziarkowski expressed concern that employees who did not select a debit card, which could be used when paying for office visits or prescriptions, would find the paperwork process intimidating.
Hill said officials with the Teacher Retirement System of Texas were unsure whether money in the accounts would roll over at the end of each year or be returned to the state.
There is a possibility that the accounts will be eliminated before September by HB29, coauthored by Rep. Carter Casteel, R-New Braunfels. The bill would reinstate the $1,000 supplement directly to teachers’ paychecks.
Ziarkowski said he hoped it would pass.
"(The money) is so much handier in our paychecks,” he said.
AUSTIN (AP) — A provision in the school finance bill approved by the House this week would replace the high school Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills exit-level test with a series of end-of-course exams that students would have to pass before they graduate.
But, the measure doesn’t have much support across the rotunda, where the Senate is drafting their own school finance legislation.
“I don't think change is good at this point in time,” said Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas. “Let our students get adjusted. It took them a long time to get adjusted to the TAAS test, now we have this test. Now we’re talking about end-of-the-year tests. Teachers have said parents are saying their children are tested out.”
Students in lith grade this year are the first to be required to pass the more difficult TAKS test in order to graduate from high school.
“We have worked so diligently to get the TAKS test... to now change it. It does not seem appropriate at this time,” said Sen. Florence Shapiro, a Plano Republican who co-chairs a joint public education committee. “We have a TAKS test that has been very well vetted, that has been in the process for at least five years and it’s probably an inappropriate time to make that kind of change, so it will not be in our proposal.”
The llth-graders took the test last week and results are expected by the end of this month. About 100,000 students are predicted to fail.
Instead of the TAKS, the Texas Education Agency would be required to have four new exams in science and three each in English, math and social studies in place by the 2008-09 school year.
"We need a more specific way of identifying what areas kids need additional help in,” said Andrew Blifford, legislative
See FUNDING. Page 3A
Ii there any relief in right to the bloated prices drivers have to pay at the pump?
Church gives people ‘new beginnings’ through healingtow
NEW BEGINNINGS CHRISTIAN CENTER
■ Pastor: Rick and ■ Worship style: Angie Jackson charismatic
■ Attendance: 80
■ Meeting time: 10 a m. Sundays
■ Address: 227 Courtyard
■ Phone: 606-6454
■ Mission statement: A healthy body of believers that branches out to bring healing of the soul, mind and body to whosoever will come for a new beginning.
By Leigh Jones
Pastor Rick Jackson teaches his congregation at New Beginnings Christian Center to share their blessings with others.
“We don’t just believe in giving people infonnation,” Jackson said. “We believe in impartation."
Last year, Jackson imparted his hearing to Adrianna Martinez, 13.
Martinez, who suffered a significant hearing loss at age 4, prayed and fasted for seven days before approaching Jackson at the end of an evening service.
“My daughter told me she wanted to participate (in the prayer services) because she was going to believe God for a miracle,” said Adrianna’s mom, Grace. “On the last night, (Jackson) told her he was going to put his fingers in her ears and she would hear a pop.”
Grace said she was amazed when her * daughter's head snapped back and her
New gttg Braunfels ll Police Dept.
Fridays, the Herald-Zeitung wiU feature a different house ofworship.
eyes opened wide.
“It was scary in a way,” Adrianna said. “I had no doubt at all that it would happen. When I came back to school, I told people, ‘You’ll never believe what happened to me. ”
After that night, Grace said her daughter stopped needing her hearing aides and her grades improved.
In the last year, Adrianna has moved out of special education classes at Smithson Valley Middle School and now is in the honor society.
“It’s a big difference," Adrianna said. “There’s no denial that I did get healed. Everything about my school work has changed. The excitement of that night is still with me."
Adrianna’s story is just one example of Jackson’s “hands on” approach.
“We take tilings that happen in people’s lives in this community personally," he said. “The only tune you’re going to make
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New Beginnings Christian Center's Pastor Rick Jackson and his wife, Angie.