The latest in a series of public forums discussing teacher pensions in general, and the proposal to shift the state’s pension costs to local school districts in particular, will be held Monday night, September 10th, in Skokie at Niles North High School.
The forum, which begins at 7pm, is sponsored by the Illinois Policy Institute (the Institute), an anti-union/anti-public employee pension organization. IEA members are asked to attend the forums to hear different points of view on pensions and to support IEA and/or IFT panelists.
“Districts are already strapped for cash and have cut staff and programs for students. A cost shift could lead to more cuts,” said Cinda Klickna, IEA president.
“In addition, the cost shift is one piece of a proposed bill. The other part is getting lost in the discussion and would affect current retirees and active workers who are working hard in our schools and higher education institutions,” she said.
The Institute describes itself as a “non-partisan” and non-ideological “think tank.” In fact, the organization has a long record of opposition to public employee pensions and public employee unions. The Institute also does not disclose how it is funded.
The main topic of the “Local Pension Accountability Forums” is the possible pension cost shift. The panel is usually made up of a moderator, a state lawmaker, someone from the Institute, someone from a local school district and a representative of either the IEA or the IFT.
IEA opposes the cost shift as it is currently proposed. Some supporters of the concept say that shifting costs could ensure that the employer’s pension contribution, which is currently the state’s and has often been ignored, would actually be paid.
However, if not done in the right way, passing the state’s costs to local districts would place additional financial hardships on districts, many of which are already suffering due to underfunding by the state. And, a shift could increase the already wide funding gap between wealthy and poor districts throughout Illinois.
The next forum is Monday, September 10, at Niles North High School (9800 North Lawler St. Skokie, IL ) from 7-8:30 p.m.
Other forums are scheduled for:
Rockford, September 25th – Auburn High School
Kane County (date and location TBD)
Other forums have already been held in Springfield, Carbondale, Quincy, Lemont and Crystal Lake. Check the IEA website for new information about dates and times for the other scheduled forums as the information becomes available.