Proposed teacher pension shift worries Joliet school board members
By Tony Graf firstname.lastname@example.org July 15, 2012 8:32PM
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn
Updated: August 17, 2012 6:01AM
Shifting teacher pension costs — from the state to local school districts — would have a definite effect in Joliet, some school board members say.
In Springfield, the plan’s supporters include Gov. Pat Quinn, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, and Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago. But another, distinct side of the issue emerges when listening to local leaders.
“Where are we going to get the revenue for that?” said Earl Petersen, a member of the Joliet Township High School Board. “We certainly can’t pass a referendum. I wouldn’t even think about doing that.”
“I think it’s terrible. I’m so embarrassed by this state,” Petersen said.
“If the state shifts these costs to local districts, it will definitely have a large impact on our budget,” said Arlene Albert, board vice president.
“It goes without saying that if we incur additional expenses, we could only handle that by eliminating something we have already in the budget. Our district budget is very straightforward — tight and totally focused on what is best for our students. I would be very unhappy to have to eliminate any programs that are necessary to help our students achieve success so the state can solve their budget problems,” Albert said.
If the pension cost is shifted, then control should be local, not from the state, said Jeff Pierson, president of the high school board.
“If the state decided to do that, then I think school districts should have a say in the control of the pension money,” Pierson said. “So if we’re putting the money in, then we should have control over the investment. None of those monies should be controlled by Springfield.”