Local Schools Potentially Affected by Pension Reform
How the pension reform debate in Springfield may affect District 153
As you may have heard in the news, the Illinois General Assembly may be getting close to voting on pension legislation. The Governor reportedly is hosting an important meeting on the topic with legislative leaders this afternoon. Because these proposals could impact your student's educational experience, I wanted to keep you apprised of developments as best as I can.
The situation in Springfield is very fluid, and it's difficult to gauge the options since they are largely being considered behind closed doors. However, what we do know about these proposals indicate a significant financial impact on District 153.
The most prominent plan would shift the state's portion of the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) pension liability to local school districts, like District 153. This proposal would cost District 153 about $1 million more each year, essentially neutralizing or taking away the tax referendum that this community overwhelmingly passed in order to maintain staff and services.
These pension proposals would be piled on top of cuts to General State Aid that have already occurred and the additional cuts we expect next school year.
In our long-range financial plan, District 153 had factored in and prepared for significant cuts to General State Aid. The 2011 tax referendum mitigated those cuts.
We did not expect the General Assembly to dump state pensions on us, too. District 153 and its teachers have faithfully contributed our required shares to the pension system while the state of Illinois has shirked its responsibilities for many years. While we stand ready to be a part of reforming the system, District 153 cannot shoulder the full cost of teacher pensions without damaging the learning experience for students.
I encourage you to contact your state legislators to ask questions and/or express your concerns. If you don't know who represents you in Springfield, click the link below and enter your address. You will be provided with the names and contact information for your elected representatives.
We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you informed. As always, please contact me if you have questions or concerns.
Dr. Dale Mitchell