National Education Report Doesn't Paint Illinois in Good Light
A national study comparing general school funding dollars with the amount spent on staff benefits singled out Illinois, and not in a good way.
The study tracked spending on K-12 education for the years 2005 through 2014. And nationwide, spending increased slightly… But spending on benefits for school staff? That increased much more.
The report spotlighted Illinois with a graph showing such a big spike in 2009, it looks like a shark swimming across a shallow pool of school funding dollars.
Max Marchitello, the Bellwether analyst who wrote the report, says it’s probably because of Illinois’ 77-billion-dollar teacher pension liability.
“There was a huge spike in 2009 because of the recession, and then it plummets the next year … my guess is because they had to keep paying their obligations as their economy, like the rest of the country, tanked. Illinois has a big problem because their unfunded liability is over like 100 billion dollars or something like that, in the public pension, and i think it’s around 80 for teachers. so they’re really in the hole, and each year, the obligation that they have to pay goes up and up and up, they have to contribute more and more.”
The nine-year study showed that nationwide, spending on benefits rose 22 percent. But in Illinois, spending on benefits rose 82 percent.
Marchitello says the state’s new school funding formula could help.
Teacher pensions are crucial because Illinois is one of only 15 states where teachers don’t get Social Security.