Whenever an organization is confronted with change, it is always wise to gather as much information as possible. That way, when the time comes to disseminate that information, it is as accurate and complete as possible. The Dakota Christian School board has been gathering information about an impending change that will affect the school, and we are now in a position to bring everyone up-to-speed.
DCS belongs to an organization called Christian Schools International (CSI). This organization is comprised of hundreds of Christian schools worldwide. CSI provides a variety of valuable services, such as insurance, in-service opportunities for teachers, and a pension plan for school employees. Participation in the pension plan is required for all contracted employees that are half-time or greater. Up until recently, employees were required to put 5% of their gross earnings into the pension plan, which the school was required to match.
In October of 2016, eligible employees attended a webinar, where we were informed that the pension plan was facing some imminent changes. These changes were based on three main factors. First, insurance premiums have risen from approximately $1 million annually to nearly $7.5 million in the last five years. Secondly, investments have not been earning the projected 7.5% rate of return since 2008, which places less money in the plan. Thirdly, pension payouts go to a teacher for as long as he/she lives after retirement, and then a surviving spouse continues to draw until he/she passes away. With life expectancies increasing, people draw their pensions longer, which drains the pension fund more quickly.
Since then, board members and I have attended multiple webinars and meetings to determine the impact of such changes for Dakota Christian School. After a year of fact gathering, we are now able to let you, the Society, know what we are facing.
Bottom line: from the 2016-2017 school year to the 2018-2019 school year, the budgeted amount for pension is projected to go from $21,000 to over $70,000 without any increase in benefits to the employees the plan serves. As a school, we cannot simply refuse to participate in the plan any longer, as the pension plan is inextricably linked to CSI membership. We also cannot rescind our CSI membership to get out of our obligation to the plan. The school is left with two choices. First, the school can continue to pay the $70,000+ annual payment for the foreseeable future. Secondly, the school has received a withdrawal amount of $1.2 million that can be paid up front to terminate future payments. Such a large amount would require Society approval.
This is a fairly brief synopsis of the situation, and we are sure you have many questions. Our next Society meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 26. At that meeting, the Society will be asked to consider what should be done about the pension plan. In the lead up to the Society meeting, it is the intention of the board and administration to hold open meetings in the next several weeks to reveal further details of the situation and to allow for dialogue and feedback from you. Please be watching newsletters, emails, and church bulletins for dates and times. We invite you to attend these informational meetings so that, when the Society meeting comes, you will be able to make an informed decision on a topic that will invariably affect the future of Dakota Christian School. Please feel free to contact myself (firstname.lastname@example.org or 605-243-2211) or Board Treasurer Keith Vanden Hoek (605-680-2605) if you have any initial questions. Please pray that God will bless us with His wisdom as we face this decision.
Donald D. Mitchell, Administrator
Chase Pheifer, Senior
After not being sure whether or not DCS would have a drama director, Kami Pheifer stepped up and headed the push for a play this year. Jeremy Boer is the adult director. The play that the DCS drama department is performing is a one-act play called Bad Auditions by Bad Actors. There are 12 students out for drama, and the play should have a run time of 30-45 minutes. The showings will be on May 3 and May 5 (Thursday and Saturday) at 8 PM, so come out and enjoy laughing at our bad acting!