UNO Charter Network Underfunding Pensions

On Monday, the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund (CTPF) called out the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) charter school system for underreporting employees to the fund. A CTPF independent review of UNO’s pension fund contributions found the UNO network neglected to make pension fund contributions on behalf of more than 90 teachers, and underfunded contributions on behalf of an additional 30 employees.

CTPF’s announcement came the same day as the opening of the charter network’s newest campus, UNO Soccer Academy High School. This is one of the same schools who’s construction was temporarily halted after UNO insider contracting deals surfaced this past April.

All certified personnel employed by CPS and CPS charter schools are required under Illinois law to participate in CTPF in lieu of social security.

The pension fund receives contributions from around 108 CPS charter school operators. UNO, with over 700 teachers and administrators in its system, is the city’s largest network of privately run charter schools and the teacher pensions fund’s second largest employer.

As of 2002, the teachers pension fund was 99.9 percent funded. By 2012 their funding ratio had dropped to just 53.9 percent.

CTPF attributes the $3.2 billion lost since 1995 to diversion of the fund’s dedicated tax levy, Illinois General Assembly-approved pension funding “holidays”, and inadequate employer contributions such as those uncovered within the UNO system.

“These findings demonstrate the reason we’ve undertaken a comprehensive review of charter schools,” said Jay C. Rehak, president of the teacher pensions fund Board of Trustees. “CTPF is a well-managed but underfunded plan. This review will help ensure that the problems we’ve experienced with our primary employer will not spread to other employers.”

CTPF is currently conducting a review of pension contributions at the Noble Network of Charter Schools, another of the the city’s large charter operators.

 

(This story originally appeared on Chicago Resistance Report)

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