At a time when suburban school districts are pushing back hard against taking over the state's share of teacher retirement costs, many are paying thousands of dollars — sometimes hundreds of thousands — in penalties for giving big raises to administrators and teachers and driving up pensions.
School districts have had to pay because of a 2005 law intended to help ease the state's skyrocketing pension costs. The 2005 law says a school district has to cover the future pension costs triggered by most raises of more than 6 percent a year.
Some suburban school districts far exceeded that. Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 gave 22 percent raises in each of three years to one administrator, securing him a $236,904 pension and contributing to $645,320 in penalties the state says District 54 owes for the last two school years. The school district is disputing those charges.