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AZ charter school teachers could lose their pensions

AZ charter school teachers could lose their pensions

CREATED Feb 6, 2012

Reporter: Valerie Cavazos

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Arizona charter school teachers may lose their pensions if a proposed IRS regulation takes effect. The IRS is considering stripping charter schools of their status as a government group -- barring teachers from the state's retirement plan.

"This is a big blow to a lot of our teachers," said Principal Billy Rubasch of La Paloma Academy. He said the prospect of his teachers being kicked out of the state retirement system is frustrating. "As a school we've been trying to reassure our teachers that even if they are not allowed to participate in the Arizona State Retirement System, we will have a plan for them so they will still have retirement."

Since the school opened 10 years ago, all the teachers have participated in the state's retirement system. If the changes go into effect, they would  forfeit the money the state contributed to their accounts.

Greg Hart, the board president of Edge School, said the timing could not be worse as the Department of Education, the State Board for Charter Schools, and the Arizona Charter Schools Association have worked hard to even the playing field for charter schools. He said it would be difficult for many charter schools to retain highly qualified educators. "Yes, I think that some would probably leave. I think there's got to be some intermediate measures so that teachers who worked in good faith -- 15 years in a school and depending on retirement -- are not going to be left in the cold because of the IRS's late decision making processes."

About 12,000 charter school teachers participate in the state's  retirement plan. The IRS is accepting public comment on the issue through June 18th and a public hearing to discuss the issue will be held July 9th.

Click here to learn more about the proposed changes and how you can voice your opinion.