Skip to comments.NJEA: Thousands of teachers could retire if benefits changed under Christie plan
Posted on 04/18/2010 2:27:14 PM PDT by Coleus
Teacher retirements could jump seven-fold, with as many as 30,000 veteran educators exiting before the next school year if the Christie administration alters benefits and pension rules, the NJEA said Thursday. The state teachers union warned of chaos in the classroom and irreparable damage to every school system in the state following news that the administration is working out the details of a plan to change the rules for those who receive medical benefits and pensions through the state.
School employees and retirees make up the largest group in the system, and Education Commissioner Bret Schundler said it was hoped the changes could coax enough retirements to avoid layoffs next year. Nearly every district in the state is grappling with staff cuts as steep reductions in state aid are planned under the Christie budget.
Its conceivable you could have more retirements than you need so districts could have to do more hiring, said Schundler. He said salary and benefits for new hires cost 83 percent less than those for veteran teachers. Under the tentative plan, outlined by Schundler, employees and retirees would pay more toward their medical benefits; an amount has not yet been settled upon, but it could be a percentage of any increases in premiums. Employees who retire before August 1 would still be eligible for free lifetime medical benefits.
The calculation of pension at retirement, now based on the salary during the last three years of employment, would be changed to include the last five years of service, Schundler said. The change could mean a reduction of several thousand dollars annually in pension payments for teachers at the top of the pay scale, said Passaics Robert Holster, one of the states longest serving schools chiefs.
Holster estimates that 25 percent of his staff could be packing their bags if the proposals are enacted. That number represents veteran teachers in range of retirement, whose salaries average $109,000. A large number of administrators would likely retire as well, he said. Holster has prepared a budget for next year that includes the layoff of 138 staff in the district because of the state cuts. But he said the teachers union was not budging when he asked that they act on the Governors request that they take a one-year pay freeze.
They looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language, said Holster. If they took it I wouldnt need to have layoffs. The retirements may stem layoffs and save money in the short term, but union and school leaders said such significant turnover could be disruptive and counterproductive.
In a press release, NJEA President Barbara Keshishian said the flood of retirements could also strain the states anemic pension system. Teachers contribute 5.5 percent of each paycheck to the pension fund but the state has for 15 years underfunded its share, Keshishian said.
The average teacher retires at age 61, said Keshishian. It is estimated that for every year that a teacher retires sooner than she otherwise would, the cost to the pension system increases by 10 percent for her pension and benefits. Veteran teachers are eligible to retire at 55; the age has recently been pushed to 60 for new hires. Christies office did not return a call for comment Thursday evening. The plan would need legislative action and Schundler said the administration hopes to have something to the lawmakers by May in the hopes so that it could be effective for August 1.
Keshishian warned of the disruption for districts that would need to scramble to hire new staff just a month before school starts in September. And school leaders worried about training large numbers of new hires, particularly after veteran mentors have retired. James Montesano, superintendent in Paramus, said theres far less dead wood among the veteran teaching staffs than the public often believes.
Theres this perception both from what Im reading from the governors comments and people in general, that they feel once a teacher hits 25 years of experience they turn into Mrs. Crabtree, said James Montesano, superintendent of schools in Paramus. There are a lot of very inspirational teachers that have never lost their love of the classroom. Asking them to step aside, theres a tradeoff, its not just a windfall.
Do it. Within two years, every “slot” would be filled and annual costs would be greatly reduced with no effect on quality.
Buh, bye. You can run but ya can’t hide. The truth is that pensions and benefits are unaffordable and are going to get cut sooner or later.
Christie need to do for the NJEA what Reagan did for the air-controllers union.
In a battle between Christie & the NJEA, my money is on Christie.
Oh, please. If I calculated my salary change from three years to five years, the results are virtually neglible. The people most affected would be those who would not seek to retire anyway. Gloom and doom nonsense. They should be happy they can retire.
When Gov. Christi appeared on CNBC, he reported that for an investment of $157,000 during a typical NJ teacher’s career, they would collect over $3,000,000 in retirement and health benefits....and New Jersey is broke!
Too bad he has to be the pooper-scooper who must clean up the debt piled up by the NEA and the Democrats, but kudos to him for trying.
They’ve had a money grab for decades and today’s public “education” is the result. Yet somehow getting rid of them will cause big problems . . .yeah, right.
Pennsylvania produces a large surplus of teaching school graduates, particularly here in the southwest part of the state. Only a small fraction of them can find positions close to home. The last time our school board had vacancies to fill, they reported 300 or so applicants for every position. We’re just one state, so I’m sure New Jersey will no problem finding replacements who would love to work even a little closer to home.
Yeah, I was thinking along the same lines. The schools will most likely improve. Cutting away dead wood tends to do that.
” ...the state has for 15 years underfunded its share,...”
ok, so who was in charge for the past 15 years? Guess the state’s underfunding started (according to the union) with Christie Todd Whitman, but after her weren’t they all Dems?
God love the really good, dedicated teachers, whatever portion of the overall count they may represent, but with all due respect, the state funded retirement packages just aren’t sustainable.
The same need to be in DC - and the retirement bennies cut way down.
Let them live like the rest of us - who pay for it all.
Chaos? My Obama (located opposite my pie hole).
The fewer union teachers, the better.
Wanna bet we can gain MEASURABLE IMPROVEMENTS within a year after getting rid of all union idiots?
(Yes, I know there are good teachers in there...but the fact is there are even more good ones who are not members of the Comunionist Party.)
Shove it up your Obamas, unions.
These idiots are pro-abortion? How many aborted babies wind up as students for these dummies to teach? Talk about doing yourself in.
“Asking them to step aside, theres a tradeoff, its not just a windfall.”
It’s voluntary on their part, asshat.
bye bye >>>
don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.