CPS Plans to Stop Picking Up Pension Payments for Non-Union Employees

Chicago Public Schools plans to stop picking up pension payments for its central office and non-union employees, the district announced Wednesday.

The move will affect about 2,100 current central office and non-union support staff employees beginning with the Aug. 24 pay period, officials said. Principals and assistant principals will not be impacted.

“Our goal is to protect classrooms and protect teachers’ pensions, which will require everyone pitching in – and we’re leading by example today by ending pension pickup for Central Office staff,” CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said in a statement. “Making pension payments at the expense of our children’s classrooms could result in reductions of thousands of teachers and unacceptable class sizes. At the same time, protecting classrooms but shortchanging teachers’ pensions isn’t fair to the teachers who earned their pensions and deserve them, which is why everyone needs to be part of the solution.”

CPS says it currently “picks up” 7 of the 9 percent for employees.

The plan is slated to take three years to phase in, but is expected save nearly $21 million during that time and $11.1 million annually by 2018.

Employees will pay 4 percent of their pension costs in the 2016 fiscal year, 6 percent in the 2017 fiscal year and the full 9 percent by the 2018 fiscal year.

Earlier this week, CPS released a proposed $5.7 billion operating budget, which banks on nearly $500 million in pension relief form the state that might not get approved.

The spending plan had been expected to be bleak, with officials in the nation's third-largest district struggling to close a more than $1.1 billion shortfall. CPS officials acknowledged that the proposal — which includes teacher layoffs and a property tax increase — was an "unsustainable" combination of borrowing and cuts but said there was no other choice with a $676 million teacher pension payment required by state law.

"Our goal is to protect pensions and to protect the classroom," Claypool said. "To do that, it means everybody's got to pitch in."

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