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PES looks at pensions

PRINCETON — The Princeton Elementary School Board got a look at the new pension reform legislation and how it impacts the PES staff and district.

At Monday’s board meeting, Superintendent Tim Smith reviewed the pension reform legislation which was signed into law earlier this month by Gov. Pat Quinn. The law goes into effect July 1, 2014.

The new legislation does include increases in the retirement age for Teacher Retirement System (TRS) teachers, based upon the teacher’s age on June 1, 2014, Smith said. For individuals at least 46 years of age by that time, there is no increase in the number of months and years which must be worked for full retirement benefits. Those individuals 45 years of age and younger will be required to work an additional four months for each year the individual is under age 46, as of June 1, 2014. However, no individual will be required to work more than 60 additional months, the pension reform legislation states.

The new legislation also sets a salary cap on the creditable earnings for Tier 1 TRS employees (those hired prior to Jan. 1, 2011) at the Tier II level, Smith said. For fiscal year 2014, the Tier II salary cap is $110,631, which means salary above that amount would not be pensionable. Variables would be dependent upon the individual teacher’s contract. Most of the PES teachers would be considered Tier 1, Smith said.

Among other items reviewed were early retirement options and cost of living adjustments for teachers under the new legislation.

As far as direct financial impact on the district, Smith said PES will now contribute one percentage point less to the Illinois Teacher Retirement System due to the fact that the benefits will not be as great.

After the presentation, board president Judd Lusher said the new legislation will no doubt be challenged in the courts.

In financial considerations at Monday’s meeting, the PES board approved the 2015 tax levy request of approximately $5.6 million, as presented and reviewed by the board at the November board meeting.

The board also heard from Smith on the money owed the district by the state of Illinois. As of Monday, the state owed $273,884 in the education fund and $104,747 in the transportation fund. If those quarterly payments aren’t received by the end of the year, those numbers will double in January when the new payments are due, Smith said.

The board also approved the lease/purchase of a 2014 Thomas 65-passenger bus, at a cost of $88,000. The bus replaces an old bus which is costing the district in repairs. The new bus should last the district 15-20 years, the superintendent said.

In other notes, Smith announced PES students and staff have recently raised $2,400 for area outreaches, including for Red Cross services for the Washington, Ill., disaster recovery efforts and for the local United Way Christmas toys program.

The board also recognized Brooke Hieronymus, Elle McComber, Alex Janssen, Ryan Frank, Emma Profitt and Becki Mattern as winners of the Dare To Dream program.

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