SPRINGFIELD — Making local school districts pick up the employers’ portion of teacher retirement benefits could save more than $1.3 billion a year for Illinois’ beleaguered state treasury. It also could mean financial ruin for some local school districts, school administrators say.
Financial ruin? How did that happen?
“That would kill school districts, at least most districts. For us, we’re living paycheck to paycheck,” said Tony Sanders, chief of staff for Elgin School District U-46, the state’s largest district outside Chicago. Sanders said the state owes it $12 million for this school year. “There is no magic pool of dollars waiting for us to swim in.”
So what did you promise the teachers with when you negotiated the contracts, including those pensions? Where was the magic pool of dollars then?
Oh, see, that’s the fraud, and everyone involved in it both needs to get run out of town on a rail and be prosecuted. There was no magic pool of money, but boy oh boy did those promises get made.
This is identical to what happened in this area when the School District tried to get a 1/2 cent sales tax levy for replacement of refrigerators and roofs on school buildings. Refrigerators and roofs that were installed years ago, which the school district knew damn well had a service life and therefore should have an impound account that is funded every year so as to provide that “pool of money” with which to replace the now-worn-out items.
But the district instead effectively stole those funds and spent them elsewhere by not allocating them to that impound account in the first place, thereby allowing the district to spend money it didn’t factually have. Once the shortfall became apparent years later they bleated to the people and asked that we pay twice.
The people here (wisely) said “No — you did not properly budget and set aside these funds, you figure out where to take it from and restore fiscal sanity.” My personal recommendation is that the board members and administrators be fired and/or have their salaries confiscated, including that of the Superintendent, until it’s covered. After all, what you really need in a school is teachers, a janitor to sweep the floor, a principal and perhaps one vice principal, and one person to answer the phones. Everything else may be nice, but in terms of actually educating kids it’s not required.
“I’m trying to see how it equates to good education, sound education, fiscal education, for students if you want the best for them,” said Pam Manning, superintendent of Cahokia School District 187, already on the state’s “financial watch list” because of a shaky budget condition. “We need more services, or at least need to maintain the services we’ve been providing.”
No, you need to stop stealing the people’s money. When you make promises you must be prepared to fulfill them. If you can’t reasonably figure out where the funds are going to come from and secure them, then you can’t make the promises. This called accountability and we the people need to start demanding it from top to bottom.
You’ve made promises you can’t cover and now you want everyone else to take care of that for you.
The correct answer to that request, incidentally, is “No.”