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Superintendent: Pension Reform Could Send Teachers on 'Mad Dash' Toward Retirement

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The superintendent of Owensboro Public Schools says the pension proposal unveiled by Kentucky’s Republican leaders is "second-rate" compared to the current retirement system. 

Dr. Nick Brake applauds GOP leaders for not raising the retirement age to 65 for teachers, but fears that other reforms, if enacted, would make it harder for the state to attract quality educators.

"Many people that go into teaching don't make, salary wise, as much as people in the market with the same level of education that might be going into other professions," Brake told WKU Public Radio.  "The trade off is that you have a handsome benefit package and a retirement program that you can count on."Brake says he doesn’t like the proposal to put new teachers into a defined contribution plan and move current teachers into the same 401 (k) style plan after 27 years of service.  He says the current system is designed to incentivize educators to work longer, and less generous benefits will prompt a wave of retirements.  He estimates a quarter to a third of employees in his district could retire in the next few years.

Superintendent Brake adds that the state must look at education not as a cost, but as an investment. 

The General Assembly will meet in special session by the end of the year to consider turning the proposed changes into law. 

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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