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Governor Poised to Sign Pension Reform Wednesday

Patch takes a look at Los Altos and area school districts employees' pensions.

 

With the Governor Jerry Brown poised to sign the pension reform bill in Los Angeles Wednesday, Patch is looking at pension costs in our area.

We’ve focused on five school districts in which Los Altos children attend school for this second story on pensions.

These include Los Altos School District with 160 retirees, Mountain View-Los Altos Unified High School District (MVLA) with 175 retirees, Palo Alto Unified School District, with 473 retirees, Cupertino Union School District with 484 retirees and Fremont Union High School District with 399 retirees. 

Of those five, 67 are members of what reformers call the $100,000 club.

Are such pensions fair or excessive for the level of service, education and accomplishment of public sector managers versus their private sector peers?

And are the $100,000 clubbers representative of ordinary state or local worker?

Of course not. For example, of the 175 MVLA retirees, a dozen are part of the $100,000 club, but 50 MVLA retirees received benefits of less than $20,000 in 2011. And 31 of those 50 received less than $10,000, in monthly payments as low as $162.92.

fact sheet from CalPERS shows that the average state worker who retired in 2010-2011 will get $3,065 a month.

Is that too much, too little or just right? 

Public attitudes may be influenced by the fact that private sector pensions are becoming rare.

U.S. News & World Reports says just 31 percent of employees have pensions. Unionized employees are far more likely to have pensions.

Among other reforms, the legislation raises the retirement age for most new employees from 55 to 67 to receive full benefits. It also eliminates so-called "double dipping" and caps the pensions of highly paid retired workers.

Critics have said it didn't go far enough. Brown said it was the most that could be gotten at this stage and it isn’t the end of his efforts.

Below are tables of the top 5 in each district whose pensions were  $100,000 in 2011, and how many others there are with pensions over $100,000.

 

Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District (Top 5 of 12)

Name

Years of Service

2011 Gross Pension

Richard Fisher

38.36

$181,106

Gayle Larson

35.95

$138.375

Linda Sommer

38.4

$127,370

Shoji Wada

40.52

$122,794

Hubert Riddell

37.99

$115,596

 

Palo Alto Unified School District  (Top 5 of 31)

 

Name

Years of Service

2011 Gross Pension

Mary Callan

29.8

$229,780

Robert Golton

41.09

$204,457

Gerald Matranga

40.67

$196,747

Marie Scigliano

40.53

$169,523

Linda Common

39.83

$160,889

 

Fremont Union High School District (Top 5 of 24)

Name

Years of Service

2011 Gross Pension

Paul Cheng

37.76

$197,612

Keet Hamilton

39.79

$180,863

Mary Stone

36.62

$151,999

Ethal Kopal

41.52

$150,068

Richard Amlin

38.16

$145,843

 

Cupertino Union School District (Top 5 of 22)

Name

Years of Service

2011 Gross Pension

William Bragg

38.25

$178,960

Jones Wong

40.21

$130,909

James Paul

41.2

$129,329

Patricia Vidmar

37.31

$126,977

Marjorie Zellner

36.25

$119,993

 

Los Altos School District (Top 5 of 9)

Name

Years of Service

2011 Gross Pension

Timothy Justus

38.49

$206,114

Margaret Gratiot

36.74

$179,335

Patricia Weisman

36.33

$152,324

David McNulty

41.33

$132,245

Richard Liewer

36.87

$130,367

 

—Patch Editor Tom Abate contributed to this report

Ron Haley September 13, 2012 at 02:01 AM
And this doesn't include health coverage costs to age 65 for beneficiary and spouse. I understand these increase every year and run until beneficiary and spouse are both dead. Timothy Justus could cost $6 million to $8 million. Contributions over his employment won't cover half of that! LASD has $23 million in unfunded liabilities and rising.
A working teacher September 14, 2012 at 08:31 PM
The Patch has pulled its figures for the top retirees from a pool of people who served as administrators before retiring, commanding a much higher salary than the average teacher. Retirement benefits are based on the last three years salary before retirement. These figures do not reflect the average salary upon retirement of the average teacher in any district- most retire at a number well below 100 grand, and pensions are paid at 2/3 of that. Regardless of the public's feelings about how well we get paid for the important work of instructing the citizens of tomorrow, the public needs to remember that student achievement is higher in countries that treat teaching as a profession, rather than a glorified volunteer brigade that does not deserve to make a living. If we continue to strip the teaching profession of any reasonable legitimacy whatsoever as a viable option for an educated person to want to pursue, we will have a situation on our hands where we have the same number of young people to be educated, and fewer competent individuals to educate them. These attacks on professional compensation and benefits for teachers are especially shocking to witness in well-heeled communites that pride themselves on their good schools. Good schools are good because of the people who work in them. Let's stop attacking the livelihood of teachers. We are not the enemy, and we deserve to be paid a living wage.
The Horse's Mouth September 15, 2012 at 03:44 PM
I am glad you wrote this article, however, your facts are misleading to the public. The names you listed are not connected to any profession. That means that those listed could be District office administrators, school administrators, teachers, guidance counselors, psychologists, etc. These professions represent a wide range of salaries. I think it would have been helpful if you had acknowledged the retirement career of each individual next to their names in parentheses. There are no teachers on your list who are retiring with over a $100,000 + per year. Your carelessness is destructive to what the previous writer mentioned "These attacks...on benefits for teachers are especially shocking in a ...community that prides itself on 'GREAT' schools". I have a suggestion for you in your follow-up article: 1. put the retirement career next to each name ex. District Office administrator, Administrator,Teacher, etc. 2. Mention that from these five school districts you listed that the total retirees = 1691. And that 67 of these retirees have your 100K + retirement benefits. Doing the math: 67/1691 = 3.96% of the total retirees from the five Districts receive 100K + . Now identify who is a elementary, middle school, high school teacher. Then, tell us who is making the 100K+ for retirement. That approach would have been fair to all. And let's start looking at our TOP-HEAVY District Office personnel who make this amount of money and let's start start making BUDGET CUTS!!

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