ASD teachers retirement uncertain


by Derek Smith

 ANCHORAGE, Ak---  "This is bad, I will not be able to stay here in Alaska if i wanted to raise a family," Service High School teacher Jake Todd says.

Service High School teacher Jake Todd has to take up another job.

"I'm going to basic training this summer with a few of my students," Todd says. 
He's joining the military.
"So I joined the national guard and that's how i'm going to make my ends meet. After 20 years in the guard, if need to go see a doctor, I know that I can.," Todd says. 
Before 2005, Alaskan teachers received what some consider nice benefits. A defined benefit program. The employer pays for your retirement. 
"It was a formula at the end of their career they knew what they had to live on when they retire," NEA president of Alaska Ron Fuhrer says. 
Decided by one vote in the waning hours of midnight, legislators did away with the benefit program.
This forces teachers to invest their own money for retirement. a distasteful move. 
"The bottom line is you don't know what you are going to have for retirement when you call an end to your career.," Fuhrer says. 
According to the NEA president, an actuary constitutes how much money each district should pay towards their employees retirement. The actuary said to lower payments. But it was wrong. The payments should have never descended causing what's called an unfunded liability.
"Consequently now, that was also a pressure point to cause some of the legislators obviously by one vote to do away with the defined benefit and create a new tier 3," Fuhrer said.
And after 2005, out went the Defined Benefit. The solution? Paying your own retirement, or what's called the Defined Contribution program. 
"What we need is a system that will attract and maintain a teaching force.This is not the system to do that," Todd says. 
Teachers believe they have that solution. 
"SB 30. Hopefully we can get a hearing, that would save the state 30 million over eight years," Fuhrer says.
Teachers like Jake Todd don't even have social security. The only state in the country without it. 
"Teachers in Alaska don't get that and we are the only state in the country that don't get that .  They have nothing, so there is a lot on my chest I want to get off," Todd says. 
After 2005, the overturn rate for teachers is fifty percent because their futures are uncertain.