B  U  F  F  A  L  O      N  E  W  S    www.buffalonews.com


02/24/09 09:06 AM


Hikes seen in retirement system contributions

By Rick Ahrens

The Grand Island School Board warned Monday of potential increases in district contributions to the state Teachers Retirement System, which pays out retirement, disability and death benefits to eligible teachers in New York State.

The current economic recession was blamed for a sharp decline in the system’s investment returns, which typically account for 89 percent of its gross revenue.

Board member Glenn Bobeck said that despite the tough budgetary situation, the Teacher Retirement System is something the district has to live with.

“If the investments are not doing well, we’ll have to pony up the required funds,“ Bobeck said. “Other school districts will have to do it, too. We have to cover the deficit.”

The school district may ask teachers to make an additional contribution from their salary to mitigate further budgetary deficits in the coming school years. Member contributions to the system currently make up 2 percent of its revenue, according to School Board estimates.

As the School Board works on its budget for the 2009-10 school year, another factor still to be resolved is the extent of the funding coming from the recently passed Federal Stimulus Plan.

Superintendent Robert Christmann dismissed any rumored monetary figures, saying that no concrete numbers have yet been agreed upon. With no existing precedent for how that money will be allocated, Christmann said, the School Board has to focus on the budgetary issues at hand.

“People think the federal stimulus money has ended the school districts’ budget problems, that it’s all going away,“ Christmann said. “That’s just not true.”

The board will be distributing a first draft of its budget for the 2009-10 school year in two weeks.