Illinois School District Set To Produce Next $8 Million Superintendent Pensioner

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by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, May 28, 2024 - 10:20 PM

By Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner of Wirepoints

New Trier Township HS District 203’s Superintendent Paul Sally is set to retire next year and he can count on lifetime pension benefits of nearly $8 million. When he does retire, he’ll join the ranks of the Teachers Retirement System’s top pensioners.

We’ve written for years that Illinois’ pension systems are out-of-whack with what taxpayers can afford. It’s a two-class system where those in government get guaranteed lifetime pensions and other protected benefits while those in the private sector, who get no such guarantees and protections, are forced to pay for them. 

But it’s the superintendent pensions that help bring attention to just how problematic public pensions are. Sally has done nothing wrong, of course. He’s simply benefitting from the system that’s been put in place by lawmakers. The true blame falls on the politicians who created the pension system, those who continuously sweetened benefits over the decades, and today’s lawmakers who refuse reforms.

With no reforms expected in the near term, all we can do is highlight the results of Illinois’ two-class system.

Paul Sally’s exact pension will be unknown until he officially retires, but based on FOIA data and his current pensionable salary of nearly $350,000, Wirepoints estimates his starting pension will be around $255,000 a year. If Sally lives to 82 – his approximate life expectancy according to Social Security actuarial tables – he’ll end up collecting about $8 million in total benefits. By then, his pension will have grown to $476,000 per year – thanks to the automatic 3% compounded cost-of-living increase he’ll automatically get each year. 

And if he lives past 82, Sally can expect to collect over $8, $9, or even $10 million in total benefits.

Sally is already one of the highest paid superintendents in the state. His pensionable earnings are currently the state’s 9th-highest at $346,609.

Now, to be fair to New Trier, Paul Sally’s high salary is only a burden to the residents of the New Trier school district. 94% of the district’s operating costs are funded directly by the property taxes of New Trier residents.

But that’s not the case when it comes to pension costs. Teacher pensions are paid for by state income taxes, so when Paul Sally gets a multimillion lifetime pension, all Illinois taxpayers have to chip in, from Carbondale to Rockford and from Quincy to Danville.

Sally’s big pension isn’t just a one-off. There are many superintendents across the state retiring in their 50’s and collecting six-figure sums each year. The state’s top TRS pensioners, meanwhile, can all expect to collect more than $9 million in benefits.

Some of the “retired” superintendents on the list above have gone on to work other big-paying jobs out of state, all the while drawing an Illinois pension. Yet others figure out how to double dip right here in Illinois, working interim superintendent jobs while still getting their full pensions. 

The sad reality is that superintendent pensions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Illinois’ pension problems. There are more than 1 million government workers and retirees who benefit from pensions, and the costs are simply too much to bear for ordinary Illinoisans. 

For those looking to do a deep dive into just how extreme Illinois’ pension situation is, go to: