Superintendents react to passage of hybrid pension bill | Local News | #retirement | #elderly | #seniors
Kentucky’s 30-day legislative session came to an end Tuesday with a number of bills impacting education — some more controversial than others.
Among those bills making news is House Bill 258 — creating a “hybrid” pension tier blending defined benefit and contribution components for new Kentucky teachers hired starting in 2022. It would mean that teachers hired starting next January would be required to contribute more toward their retirement benefits.
The bill would not affect teachers already enrolled in the retirement system.
Opponents said the measure would hamper efforts to recruit people into teaching while supporters said the measure was needed to relieve some pressure on the state’s public pension plan for teachers.
Gov. Beshear vetoed the bill last Wednesday but both chambers voted to override that veto on Monday.
Local school superintendents have yet to know fully how the measure will impact their respective districts but are staying optimistic.
“HB 258 is a rational solution to the pension system moving forward,” Somerset Independent Schools Superintendent Kyle Lively said Tuesday. “New hires will still have a defined benefit plan as the primary component along with a supplemental 401k type plan which will be portable. A secure pension system should make it easier to hire and retain quality educators.”
Pulaski County Schools Superintendent Patrick Richardson said he’s interested in being trained on the bill and discussing how it will work with other district and state officials.
“I only know what I’ve read about it,” Supt. Richardson said. “I know our pension needed work and I applaud legislators for coming up with a compromise bill that seems to be workable. As far as investment, our teachers make yearly investments and they have done so religiously; we can’t say the same for the state in the handling of that money. I hope this is something that the state government will help manage since they brought this change about. Hopefully they will continue to make their payments to our pension system as our employees do every paycheck.”
Supt. Richardson acknowledged some concern about being able to draw young people into the teaching profession and retaining them as benefits change.
“Our school district has approximately 600 certified staff members,” Richardson said. “Every year I see it becoming more and more difficult to fill all of those positions.”
While there have been issues over the last 10-15 years filling math and science positions, more recently the district has had a harder time filling special education positions. “Honestly right now, our pool is pretty low as far as teachers across the board, whether it be primary through high school level,” Supt. Richardson said. “It’s becoming more and more of a problem to try to find those highly-qualified teachers that we want to provide in the classrooms for our students.”
When asked if HB 258 could actually help reverse that trend, assuming the state not funding the pension system in years past has been a factor, the superintendent responded, “Let’s hope.”
Science Hill School Superintendent Jimmy Dyehouse said he was a “fan” of the bill; “(State legislators) overrode that veto, and I’m glad that they did.”
He added, “The teacher’s retirement system is in a mess.” The hybrid plan would only help fix the funding issues that exist — but Dyehouse says he doesn’t expect there to be any long-term negative impact on the teaching profession.
“I don’t think it will affect (teacher) recruiting,” he said. “In the ’80s, it used to be 30 years for retirement. They changed that, bumped it back to 27 years for 55 years old. This leaves people paying into the system longer, so in the long run, I feel like it’s a good plan. Most teachers work 30 years anyway; when someone decides to be a teacher, they’re already looking down the road, looking to retire after 30 years of service, so I don’t see (the bill) making folks not want to go into teaching.”