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Dozens of retired teachers sue Muncie Community Schools over insurance benefits

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MUNCIE, Ind. - Dozen of retired teachers are suing Muncie Community Schools because of issues with their insurance. The former teachers say the school district went back on its word and left them without coverage.

According to the lawsuit, many high-paid Muncie teachers were encouraged to retire early to save the district money. Muncie Community Schools offered these early retirees the same insurance benefits as active teachers as an incentive.  The insurance coverage for early retirees is listed in the teachers' contract.

But, the school board voted to do away with the incentive at a November 15 meeting.

Retired teacher Mary Bedel said she's now paying triple the amount of money for coverage. Bedel had a small window to find new insurance through the federal marketplace since her coverage through MCS expired January 1.

"I would certainly not have retired early," Bedel said. "This was not in the plans. It’s a big hit where we didn’t have much time to do much planning for it ."

Bedel reached the highest level of teacher pay after working for Muncie Community Schools for 39 years. Bedel said while she was making $59,960 a year, a first-year replacement teacher would cost around $34,600.

"The school corporation saved $25,000 for every year I retired early," Bedel said.

Bedel and other early retirees have joined a lawsuit filed in December against the school corporation. Attorney Jason Delk is representing retired teachers, administrators and affected by the board's decision. He says MCS is in breach of contract.

"With the cost of healthcare, it’s simply become unaffordable and puts them in a very serious predicament," Delk said.

CBS4 reached out to MCS about the lawsuit. A spokesperson said they will not comment on litigation matters. Minutes from the November 15 meeting state the district will save around $1.6 million by no longer providing insurance supplements for early retirees. The minutes also state this will "align MCS with most other districts across the state."

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