Laguna Beach Unified School District teachers will be contributing 11% more of their salaries by 2020 to help the state close a funding gap in its teachers' retirement system, a problem affecting districts throughout California.
By that year, Laguna Beach educators will contribute 19.1% of their take-home pay to the California State Teachers' Retirement System, district Assistant Supt. of Business Services Dean West said last week. The system has an unfunded pension liability of $74 billion, according to the CalSTRS website.
Each Laguna Beach Unified teacher currently puts 8% of his or her pay into the system, but that number is expected to rise incrementally in the ensuing years, West said.
"This is the most significant debt California has," West said of the teacher pensions. "[The increase in teacher contributions] is aggressive, but worthwhile. The quicker the funding level is restored, the less it will cost over time."
The district will also be paying more to close the funding gap.
For the 2013-14 school year, Laguna Beach Unified contributed $1.6 million to CalSTRS, but that number is expected to increase by $237,500 next year, West said. That would bring the total to more than $1.8 million for the 2014-15 school year.
The anticipated spike in contributions from teachers and the district follows the release of Gov. Jerry Brown's preliminary budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
The district's trustees must still approve the 2014-15 budget, scheduled to come before them at their June 24 meeting.
District programs aren't in jeopardy of being cut, but the district's added liability going forward nonetheless will have consequences, West said.
"We don't plan to cut programs as much as restrict certain programs from growing," he said.
Linda Barker, president of the Laguna Beach Unified Faculty Assn., agrees with the California Teacher Assn.'s initial stance on the matter.
"The CTA believes that the answer to the unfunded liability problem is the joint responsibility of all parties," Barker wrote in an email.