Illinois Schools Fear a Shift in Teacher Pensions

Monday, July 30, 2012

School districts across the state are bracing their budgets for possible legislation that would require them to pay for teacher pension costs as lawmakers grapple with ideas to close the state’s $83 billion pension debt.

If lawmakers ultimately decide to shift pension costs onto local school districts, the move will put districts in a tight spot. Schools would have to cut teachers or navigate past the state’s property tax caps and raise additional money to cover millions in new expenses, many McHenry County school officials said.

The Democratic leaders who support the shift have proposed a phase-in that would cost Illinois school districts $97 million in the first year and total $580 million in the fifth year. The shift, whether happening at once or over time, would be equally detrimental, said Mark Altmayer, chief financial officer for District 158 in Huntley.

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