[Widget_Twitter id=”1″]A few weeks ago I was in Laguna Beach checking out the sights and decided to pick up the local newspaper, The Laguna Beach Independent. What I saw made me reach for my phone to take a picture of this story:
The story was about a dedicated teacher who, after 25 years, is retiring. It was also about the see-saw battle over who would replace Mark Dressler at his dual job: full time teacher at the local high school and a 40% job at the local middle school.
His former principal was amazed by Dressler’s dedication:
Mark was pretty well tied up for every hour of his day.
Dressler worked 8 hours a day. By teachers’ standards this apparently qualifies as extraordinary.
To be fair, however, Dressler’s job meant some after school and evening work.
Why? Was he a STEM teacher? Did he teach hard sciences or math? Did he lead his students to the Intel awards or even the local science fair? Maybe he led the high school students to win the Constitution Debate contest which required occasional weekend competitions. Could that be it?
Dressler was a drama teacher.
And now he has been enticed to retire at age 61 at a salary of $208,982.56.
Reg Pay Extra Pay Benefits Total
|Mark Dressler||MIDDLE/HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER
Laguna Beach Unified, 2013
Source: Transparent California
If you look at the graph below from Ed.100.org , you’ll see how California teachers pensions are quite generous. By year 30, teachers make a fortune in their pensions for the typical salary. The pension dwarfs their salaries.
The graph below expresses the total financial compensation a hypothetical teacher in Oakland receives each year, including each year’s increase in promised lifetime STRS pension benefits. This example is based on the Oakland salary schedule in 2006, a suitably representative example.
The organization makes anyone with eyes to see who and possesses a pulse ask: Can California afford this?
Well, actually no.
The LA Daily News reports the unfunded liability from the teachers pensions are up to $70.5 billion. And if you count all public employee pension plans, the number grows to a staggering, at $198 billion. Billion.
That’s 31 times the unfunded liability 10 years earlier.
Which brings us back to Mr. Dressler.
According to The Independent, Dressler was given an offer he couldn’t refuse:
At 61, Dressler is taking advantage of an infrequent retirement incentive that kicks teachers retiring early into a higher pension bracket.
Here’s the description of the incentive the California Teachers Association was granted by negotiators on behalf of the tax payers:
The employer pays the benefit’s costs and associated administrative fees to CalSTRS. The terms of the Memorandum of Understanding may place additional, more restrictive eligibility requirements on employees, or may specify groups of employees eligible to receive a 2+2 benefit, a retirement incentive to provide two years of service credit and two additional years of additional age factor.
Dressler got some variation of this deal. He’d be stupid not to take it.
And what did Laguna Beach schools get?
The loss of a beloved, experienced (and, yes, highly paid) teacher.
And they’re hiring two teachers to take his place. Those teachers get pensions, too.
I checked salaries at some of the other districts in California 2012/2013:
San Diego’s Grossmont School District:
Santa Barbara School District: