February 23, 2013

Maine releases data on extra pension costs to schools

LePage has proposed shifting half of the state’s $28.9 million annual cost pension contributions onto local school districts.

By Susan McMillan smcmillan@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — School districts are getting their first look at the potential impact of the state budget on their own bottom lines, including a big shift for pension contributions.

The Maine Department of Education has released preliminary state subsidy figures, including specifics about the teacher retirement costs that districts would be expected to pay under Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed budget.

LePage has proposed shifting half of the state’s $28.9 million annual cost pension contributions onto local schools.

The Maine Department of Education estimated the full cost of normal teacher retirement contributions for each district by multiplying eligible teacher salaries for 2013-14 by 2.65 percent, which is what the state pays now. Teachers pay 7.65 percent of their salary into the state pension fund.

The $14 million additional local cost would be distributed among school districts based on property values, with about 70 of the state’s wealthiest districts bearing the full amount.

Four local districts have normal pension costs above $300,000: Augusta School Department, $310,302; Hallowell-based RSU 2, $330,098; Oakland-based RSU 18, $336,586; and Skowhegan-based RSU 54: $334,279.

The figure for Portland Public Schools, the state’s largest district, is $1.37 million.

It is not clear how much each of those districts would have to pay after adjusting for property valuation.

To view the retirement costs obligation by school district, click here.

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