Where do we begin?
These are difficult times for everyone, our members included. One thing for sure is that some Pine-Richland residents are coming to conclusions based on wrong facts. Under normal circumstances, one could ignore their innuendos and calls for action.
But we can no longer sit back and permit misinformation to bring down the morale and standing of the special place Pine-Richland School District and Community has become.
It was recently reported that Pine-Richland School District will face rising pension costs. A group of taxpayers gathered to discuss the situation and, as is popular in this day and age, the brunt of their anger pointed to the teachers.
The surprising aspect of this gathering is that individuals who served on the school board hosted the meeting. They know teachers are not responsible for the pension spike.
Maybe they don’t want to admit that teachers and other public employees have done their fair share from the very beginning. In fact, public employees like those in Pine-Richland are the only ones to contribute their fair share.
From 1986 until 2001, teachers contributed 6.25% of salary into their pensions. In 2001 that contribution rate increased to 7.5%. In 2011 new employees contributed 10.3% of salary.
Simply put, the teachers have contributed their fair share from the first day they became Pine-Richland School District employees. But when this law passed, the school districts were given options. They could keep contributing to the pension fund or reduce their contributions.
In 2001, most school districts applauded the change in the law that gave them the right to lessen their contributions. That was a mistake. Most school boards took advantage of this law and spent what would be a pension contribution on something else.
The danger of changing the contribution rate of school districts—giving them the right to lower their contribution—was seen by many. Even the Pennsylvania School Boards Association warned the PSERS Board that when the rate dropped, school districts would live to regret it.
PSBA was 100% right!
Butch Santicola, Field Director and Communications Specialist
Pennsylvania State Education Association