Both sides to the pension shift debate
Friday, Jun 22, 2012 - Posted by Rich Miller
* This should help put things into perspective about the school pension cost-shifting plan…
Quinn aides released an internal report suggesting that almost all school districts are capable of assuming their own retirement costs.
Specifically, the report says that 95 percent of districts have reserves exceeding minimum recommended standards and that phasing out state payments over several years would affect their budgets only about 0.4 percent a year.
In my world, 0.4 percent is a budgetary rounding figure.
* Earlier this week, the governor’s office released a report showing that lots of school districts were sitting onbig cash reserves…
Of local school districts, Limestone-Walters Community Consolidated School District 316 could fund the most days with its FY2011 cash reserves - $2.1 million for 484 days. The rural Peoria school district is one of eight feeder districts into Limestone High School and has an enrollment slightly over 200 students.
Dunlap Community Unit School District 323, which is considerably larger, has $34.6 million cash on hand, according to the state data. That’s enough to keep the district going for 441 days.
The data showed that Peoria District 150 had $48.1 million on hand at the end of fiscal year 2011, or almost 70 days worth of funding.
Dave Kinney, comptroller at the city’s public school district, said his figures show the district with about $41 million in total reserves, though he believes that number is misleading. He said of that amount, about $38 million comes from borrowed funds used to infuse money into depleted cash accounts from previous years’ expenditures.
The figures don’t take into account further school funding cuts passed this year by the General Assembly, the fact that many districts are using their reserves to deal with previous state budget reductions, delayed payments and rising costs — points echoed by the school districts themselves.
The data showed that the Springfield School District had $16.9 million on hand at the end of fiscal year 2011, about 82 days’ worth of funding.
District spokesman Pete Sherman said officials estimate the Springfield school system will have only $1.9 million in its main education fund by the end of fiscal year 2013. The state board is even less optimistic, guessing that the district will have $667,308 on hand by the end of FY13.