by Will Sentell
Despite protests from teacher unions and others, a committee of Louisiana’s top school board Tuesday approved a contract of nearly $143,000 for LSU to study the state’s nearly $12 billion teachers’ retirement debt.
The yearlong study is supposed to be overseen by Jim Richardson, director of the Public Administration Institute at LSU and a member of the influential Revenue Estimating Conference, which oversees Louisiana’s budget outlook.
The review is supposed to aid a task force of education groups grappling with the issue, including why costs continue to rise.
“It would be irresponsible for us to not have a third party take a look at the situation,” said Chas Roemer, president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Roemer, of Baton Rouge, said similar retirement problems have driven some municipalities into bankruptcy.
But officials of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, Louisiana Association of Educators and Louisiana School Boards Association opposed the contract.
At issue is what is called the Unfunded Accrued Liability, which is the money needed to pay promised benefits to both current and retired members.
The nearly $12 billion UAL for teachers is the largest of the state’s four retirement systems.
LSU will also provide updates every six weeks to the task force of education organizations studying retirement costs.
The study is supposed to uncover reasons for rising retirement expenses, the ability of local schools boards to handle the costs and the long-term sustainability of the system.
Teacher’s Retirement Fund Debt to be Studied