More than 70 retired Belleville-area school employees have earned more than $1M from pensions
It pays to be a retired Belleville-area school employee.
Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) reports at least 73 retirees from area school districts have collected more than $1 million since retiring, with seven of them pocketing in excess of $2 million.
Those reaping the windfall did so relatively on the cheap, with IPI adding they paid an average of just $123,009 to Illinois’ Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) over their careers to get the return.
On average, all the beneficiaries, who retired at an average age of just 57, netted a median pension of $114,439, or nearly three times the average salary earned by a typical area household.
With nearly two-thirds of all those benefits being paid out to former High School District 201 employees, retired Belleville High superintendent K. Lane Miller has netted the biggest pension payout at over $2.5 million. He retired at age 56 after contributing just under $65,000 to the fund.
Pensions now absorb more than a third of the state’s overall education budget, jumping by nearly 25 percent over the last two decades. Presently, TRS pays the largest chunk of six-figure pensions among the state’s six largest systems, with nearly 12,000 former school district employees pocketing in excess of $100,000 annually.
Just two months ago, TRS officials announced they would need an additional $400 million more from taxpayers compared to last year just to keep things afloat, raising the projected taxpayer contribution bill to at least $4.8 billion.
All of it is exacting a heavy toll, with property taxes in St. Clair County rising by nearly 50 percent over the last two decades, easily surpassing home values by more than 200 percent.