School district salaries left out of Illinois school report cards
The Illinois General Assembly may consider much needed pension reform during the second week of fall veto session, which lasts Nov. 5 until Nov. 7. But they will have to do so without the latest teacher and administrator salary information affecting the state’s largest pension system, the Teachers’ Retirement System, or TRS. Last week the...
The Illinois General Assembly may consider much needed pension reform during the second week of fall veto session, which lasts Nov. 5 until Nov. 7. But they will have to do so without the latest teacher and administrator salary information affecting the state’s largest pension system, the Teachers’ Retirement System, or TRS.
Last week the Illinois State Board of Education, or ISBE, released its annual Illinois State School Report Cards, but unlike previous years it did so without releasing teacher and administrator salaries and other key statistics.
A Daily Herald editorial highlighted the problem.
“Unfortunately, information about teacher and administrator salaries — as well as faculty and administrator demographics — hasn’t been released yet and probably won’t be ready until at least January.”
Because pensions are primarily based on salaries and years of experience, making the salaries of teachers and administrators available is a crucially important factor in the pension reform debate.
Last week TRS reported that despite a 12.8 percent return on investments last year, its unfunded liability grew by $3.65 billion, to $55.73 billion, for the fiscal year ending June 30. One of the reasons this debt continues to grow is the rapid growth of teacher and administrator salaries.
In fact, in its latest report TRS assumes salaries will grow at a rate of 6 percent per year, causing additional strain on a massively underfunded pension system.
ISBE chalked up the problems to a new computer system.
“Mary Fergus, spokeswoman for the Illinois State Board of Education, says that’s not so. She says the information has been delayed because a new system was implemented this year for gathering data and that the amount of information collected contributed to the delays.”
If the new system makes it harder for ISBE to track key teacher and administrator salary statistics, maybe they shouldn’t have switched. But perhaps politics played a part in the delay of these statistics as the Daily Herald editorial board points out.
“We are not by nature conspiracy theorists. But you don’t have to be JFK assassination investigator Jim Garrison to wryly note the coincidence that at the same time legislators are meeting to try to reach some sort of accord on the emotionally charged public pension reform issue, the state School Report Cards omitted the salary information that traditionally had been part of the data.”
The lack of salary transparency at this key date in the pension reform debate is inexcusable. Taxpayers deserve to know how much their public employees make.