Johnson earned $324,785 in compensation from the Illinois
Association of School Boards, or IASB, while simultaneously
collecting $209,379.43 from the Illinois Teachers' Retirement System
between July 1, 2007, and July 1, 2008, according to documents
obtained by Illinois Statehouse News.
The Illinois Teachers'
Retirement System, or TRS, discovered that Johnson hadn't stepped
down from his position with IASB -- an organization that helps
school boards with professional development and is indirectly funded
by taxpayers -- and suspended his payments, said Dave Urbanek, TRS
"This is a situation that TRS would look to aggressively correct
to maintain the integrity of the state laws and the pension system
and taxpayer funds," Urbanek said.
Johnson repaid the $209,379.43 to TRS and agreed to retire as a
full-time executive director to avoid the matter getting resolved in
the courts. He officially retired in the summer of 2008 before
coming back to work as executive director emeritus a month later.
Johnson said the initial payout was the result of a
misunderstanding between him and TRS that was corrected.
"They had different expectations," Johnson said.
To date, Johnson has collected $1.1 million from his pension on
top of earning an average of $198,105 in annual compensation by
working part time for the school board association.
"I think it's operating within the system. It's really very
similar to teachers that retire and come back to substitute teach,"
What Johnson is doing isn't illegal.
Anyone collecting a TRS pension could work either 120 days or up
to 600 hours annually in a position eligible for a TRS pension
before their payouts were diminished. This occurred when Johnson
went to work part time for IASB.
That law was changed this year, so retirees can work only 100
days or 500 hours annually before affecting their pensions.
Johnson said he averages 30 hours a month working at IASB, for
which they are paying him.
There are no constraints on how much a retiree can earn during
their part-time work.
"That is something we have no control over. ... That's up to the
employing agency," Urbanek said. "There is no cap on what you can
pay a part-time worker. That's entirely up to you."
[to top of second column]
That isn't much consolation to Bob Vogelbaugh, vice president of
Moline School District School Board.
"I think people in Mr. Johnson's position need to realize that
the state of Illinois will never get out of the red if they continue
to double-dip. They think they're entitled. ... They're just lining
their pockets," Vogelbaugh said.
Johnson is scheduled to retire completely from IASB next year.
Johnson is one of 119 people in TRS who don't work for a school
in any capacity.
Under Illinois statute, anyone working for a statewide teachers'
union or IASB can pay into and collect a public pension.
State Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, said he is working on
legislation that would kick out of the TRS employees of teachers'
unions and the IASB. Former employees' pensions and what current
employees have paid in so far wouldn't be affected, said Murphy.
State Sen. Matt
President John Cullerton,
State Sen. Minority
Leader Christine Radogno, 630-243-0800
Speaker of the
House Michael Madigan,
State House Minority Leader Tom Cross,
Statehouse News; By ANDREW THOMASON]