Race to retire? Teachers concerned about pension plan recommendations

Updated: Aug. 29, 2017 at 7:10 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - After recommendations to solve Kentucky's pension crisis were presented to Kentucky's Public Pension Oversight Board, some of Kentucky's public workforce are expressing concerns.

Teachers joined Governor Bevin's Facebook live broadcast Monday night to ask questions about the suggestions from private consulting group PFM. They voiced their concerns about a possible teacher shortage if teachers race to retire to ensure they receive full benefits.

Among several recommendations, the group advised raising the minimum retirement age and switching to a 401k system.

According to the Jefferson County Teachers Association President Brent McKim, in Jefferson County, one third of teachers (2,200) are eligible to retire and could now be pushed toward retiring earlier than planned.

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"Frankly, they're very scared and they're worried they're going to have to make retirement decisions because some of these changes could affect their annual pension by thousands and thousands of dollars of year," McKim said.

It's a decision that could amplify the pension crisis. Instead of paying into the system, retirees would be taking their money out of the system, causing even more of a problem. In addition, a mass exodus of teachers could leave the district short staffed and ultimately impact students.

"I don't think anyone including the Governor or legislators want a mass exodus of teachers because everyone recognizes that would be terrible for students," McKim said. "We really have to work together to find solutions."

McKim is urging teachers not to make any decisions about retirement. He said the recommendations are from an outside group, not legislators. Instead, McKim encourages teachers to monitor the developments, as the JCTA continues to do as well.

JCPS Acting Superintendent Marty Pollio sent a statement Tuesday evening in regards to the developments.

"One of the most important things we can do to ensure our students are prepared for college and future careers is support the hardworking teachers and employees who empower and inspire our children every day. The promises made to our current employees and retirees should be honored."

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