Saturday, September 19, 2009

Calif. Teachers Pull Down Over $100K Pensions

The recession is exposing excessive government programs throughout the U.S. at federal, state and local levels.

Teachers in metro areas across the nation receive salaries and pensions that dwarf most every profession -- not the story in many of America's rural schools.

-- From "3,000 retired educators take home 6-figure pensions" by Tony Saavedra and Jennifer Muir, The Orange County Register 9/18/09

Retired Capistrano Unified School District Superintendent James A. Fleming collects $141,331 a year in California state teacher retirement funds, on top of the $64,068 pension he collects from working 27 years in Florida.

Fleming is one of 3,090 educators in the California State Teachers' Retirement System who make at least $100,000 a year in taxpayer-guaranteed public pensions, according to a CalSTRS database obtained under the state Public Records Act. Most of the highly paid pensioners are superintendents and other district administrators. And some are pulling salaries from other jobs or pensions in other states.

In contrast, the average STRS pension is just $36,252, according to June 2008 figures, the most recent available. Of the 196,000 retirees, only 1.6 percent receive $100,000 or more, but they account for 5 percent of the $8 billion yearly payout. The average retiree in 2008 had 29 years of service.

Large public pensions have come under fire in recent months as state and local governments sag under the weight of runaway spending and a tanking economy. Like the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the teachers’ retirement system is running into trouble as workers retire to larger pensions that are increasingly difficult to fund.

While the average state teachers’ system pensioner collects $36,252, educators retiring last year did so to an average pension of $51,948. Officials calculate that the system will face a $23 billion funding gap by 2039.

Consider James C. Enochs, the highest paid pensioner in the STRS system, at $285,460.

Another member of the "100,000-plus" club, former Orange Unified School District Superintendent Thomas Godley collects $210,211 a year.

To read the lengthy list of stats, CLICK HERE.