N.J. Education Chief Says Pension Proposals Could Prompt Fewer Than 13,000 Teachers To Retire Early

bret_schundler_schi_dinner_langertState proposals that would prompt public teachers to retire early would only have a significant financial impact on those who plan to leave within two years, Education Commissioner Bret Schundler said yesterday. The still-amorphous reforms, which include recalculating the way pensions are calculated for current teachers, could prompt fewer than 13,000 teachers to take the offer — far less than the 30,000 figure the state’s largest teachers union put forth, Schundler said.

“The way these mechanisms would actually function, anybody who is interested in staying for three years or more, there would be no economic interest whatsoever to leave,” he said. “Not everybody is looking at it as all in dollars and cents. A lot of people really want to teach for another 24 months, and there’s no reason why they can’t.” 

The Christie administration has been hinting for months about possible reforms that would prompt older and higher-paid teachers to retire sooner rather than later, giving an Aug. 1 deadline but not offering specifics on what the proposals would entail.

Schundler said yesterday the proposals would include calculating pensions based on a teacher’s last five years of salary instead of three, rolling back a 9 percent increase granted in 2001 and basing health care contributions on a percentage of premium, not salary.

Specific bills, which would need to be passed by the Democrat-controlled Legislature, could be released within the next few days, he said.

A union spokesman criticized the proposals, saying they might even be illegal — but it’s impossible to tell without seeing the actual legislation.

“What they’re doing is throwing a lot of dirt in the air and throwing a lot of confusion, but they seem remarkably reticent to put out any actual information, put a legislative proposal on the table,” said Steve Baker, spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association. “Part of what’s going on is either they don’t know or they realize there’s a lot that they’re threatening that they cannot actually do.”

Earlier this week, Gov. Chris Christie sent the Legislature dozens of suggested changes to laws and rules governing municipal finances, including moves that would essentially cap employee raises at 2.5 percent — without the bills that would prompt teacher retirements.

The governor on Monday declined to say whether he will propose legislation to encourage veteran teachers to retire. Asked twice about the initiative, Christie said only: “Commissioner Schundler has come forward with many proposals that he thinks are worthy ones. These are the proposals the governor has put forward.”

Schundler denied any disagreement, saying the proposals have been delayed by work on an application for federal Race to the Top funding, which has a June 1 deadline.

Proposals could come forth any day now, but they must pass the Legislature before June 30 to give teachers enough time to file for retirement by Aug. 1, Schundler said. Star Ledger

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2 COMMENTS

  1. just what we need generation Y taking over in the work place, after everyone bails out……..way to go Christie and the dopes who voted for him

  2. Many teachers would like to retire, however if you change the retirement age, to longer years, then your not going to see early retirements, unless you make it age 62, They will stick it out, after all you can earn enough money when your 65,

    What makes anyone think that raising the age will encourage a teacher to retire, if you lower the age, YES. take the lat 5/ 6 /7 yrs for retirement —– their income willbe much higher than at 62, ,many willl choose to work.

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