Since 2006, the district paid a total $265 million to employees for unused sick and vacation days, according to an analysis of payroll and benefit data obtained by the Better Government Association under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Payouts increase the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund’s liabilities because employees are allowed to use sick leave payouts to boost their final average salaries, which in turn increases their annual pensions.
In all, about 19,000 employees received sick and vacation payments during the six-year period. The average payout was just under $14,000.
The news report said members of the Teachers’ Retirement System, which includes Downstate and suburban teachers, can accumulate as many as 340 uncompensated sick days for up to two years of credit, allowing them to retire two years early with full pension benefits.
“People should take a good hard look at whether or not that policy makes any sense and whether it should be kept in place in these tight budget times,” former schools CEO Arne Duncan, now U.S. Secretary of Education, said through a Washington D.C.-based department spokesman, according to the Sun-Times.