Earlier this month, superintendents from around North Carolina got together in Durham to commiserate and tell how budget reductions were impacting their schools. This morning’s meeting of the General Assembly’s Joint Education Oversight Committee offered a far different view of how public schools are faring (See presentations here). Superintendents from Allegheny County Schools, Lee County Schools, Jones County Schools and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools not only presented information about how their schools have been impacted by budget reductions but also talked about the changes their schools have made to get better even with fewer resources. A tip of the cap to Dr. Jeff Cox, Michael Bracey, Dr. Jeffrey Moss and Dr. Donald Martin who have displayed creative and innovative ways to meet various challenges in the middle of a recession.
One of those challenges that has been off the radar are the increasing costs of the retirement system for school employees. Local school districts must match employee contributions. However that percentage has been steadily increasing. In 2008-09 the percentage contribution was 7.83 percent. By 2012, the percentage contribution had grown to 13.12 percent. Next year, it will be 14 percent. How do these changes impact LEAs? In 2008-09, Allegheny County Public Schools paid $73 million in retirement costs. In 2012 that figure had grown to $108.6 million. That’s about a 25 percent increase in retirement costs in four years. Other counties are also experiencing those increases. Just another reason why North Carolina needs to take a hard look at it’s current retirement system.