Free Pension Giveaway Costs Cleveland Schools $35 million

For a school district facing possible bankruptcy, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District was very generous with its employees during the 2010-11 school year. 

For example, taxpayers may be surprised to learn they paid the pension contributions for the district and the teachers during 2010-11. So instead of just paying the district’s $49 million contribution to the State Teachers Retirement System, taxpayers took care of the teachers’ $35 million contribution, too.

Of course, taxpayers didn’t really have a choice in the matter. That agreement had already been written into the district’s collective bargaining agreement with the Cleveland Teachers Union.

Education Action Group discovered the pension giveaway – and many other budget-busting provisions – during its recent analysis of CTU’s collective bargaining agreement with the school district. Using Freedom of Information requests, EAG was able to track where some of the CMSD’s money goes, and propose how the district could save approximately $57 million.

Other remarkable findings:

  • Cleveland Public Schools paid out nearly $11.6 million in total substitute teacher costs in 2010-11. The district’s 3,547 full-time teachers took a total of 45,757 days off during that school year (40,675 sick days and 5,082 personal). That averages to nearly 13 absences per teacher.
  • Cleveland Public Schools paid out just over $4 million in reimbursement for unused sick days for teachers and others covered by CTU’s collective bargaining agreement in 2010-11.
  • The Cleveland school district spent $3.9 million on automatic, annual “step” raises for teachers and other employees covered by the teacher union’s contract in 2010-11.
  • The Cleveland school district paid out $116,423 for salary and benefits for the union president, who never taught during the 2010-11 year.

While the teachers’ contract requires the union to reimburse the district for the CTU president's salary, there is no mention of reimbursement for the cost of a replacement teacher. And if no replacement teacher was hired, then the district is, in effect, loaning money to the union to pay its president that could be used to hire at least one full-time teacher.

These are the hidden costs of an increasingly expensive government education system. Taxpayers would be wise to scrutinize how their schools are spending dollars before turning over even more hard-earned money.

The report, titled, “Sucking the Life Out of America’s Public Schools: Part 6 – Cleveland Teachers Union Contract,” is the latest in a series which includes Milwaukee, Detroit, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Los Angeles.

Those reports can be found on EAGnews.org.


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