Superintendent says proposed changes to KTRS would require teacher salaries to be increased to offset pension losses

10/23/2017 03:53 PM

DAYTON – Kentucky’s teachers and public school administrators are concerned that at a time educators are being asked to do more, Gov. Matt Bevin and the House and Senate leadership’s pension reform proposal could pull the rug out from under their feet financially.

Dayton Independent Schools Superintendent Jay Brewer, who is one of eleven people in his family who is either in public education or retired from the Kentucky educational system, appreciates the attention that the governor and state legislature is giving to the pension crisis but is concerned with the overall lack of details presented by Bevin during the unveiling of the pension solution proposal.

“Sometimes when you hear the rhetoric of keeping the promise, this is something to rejoice over, or it’s going to be the best plan ever, and then when it’s delivered out you start looking at it and you say well, I don’t see the alignment at this point between the two of those things, you begin to wonder,” Brewer said. “You know, if that’s what it is, tough times, straight talk would be appreciated by educators.”

Brewer believes there is still a lot of discussion as to what the final bill will look like, but if the final proposal favors moving all new-hire teachers to a 401 (k) style contribution plan, then the starting salary for teachers will have to be increased.

“If that’s the route we’re going then we need to be paying teachers that salary on that business model,” Brewer said. “You can’t have it one way without having it the other. A lot of questions still need to be answered on the proposal and what it truly means for teachers and future teachers.

One big sticking point for teachers is the fact that an additional 3 percent of their salaries will be used to fund the retiree healthcare program.

“Some better explanations of the why behind some of these things would be helpful for teachers to understand,” Brewer said. “I think part of us need to take a deep breath until we see some of the actual details, but what’s been proposed right now really isn’t really good for Kentucky kids.”

Other concerns for Brewer in the proposal include cost of living adjustments (COLAs) for current retirees being temporarily suspended for five years, as well as how many years a teacher must teach to get to full retirement.

Currently, Kentucky public school teachers must work 27 years to reach retirement.


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