School Districts Now Required to Report Pension Debt

The Governmental Accounting Standards Board changed how pension debt is reported under a new rule that took effect last fiscal year.

School districts are now required to report their pension debt, which had been previously only been reported by the California State Teachers Retirement System and the California Public Employees Retirement System.

CalSTRS and CalPERS are the two big statewide retirement systems for teachers and non-teaching employees, respectively.

With this change in reporting, districts now show higher amounts of pension debt. Elk Grove Unified in Sacramento, for example, now lists a pension debt of $414.6 million, but last year it showed no pension debt.

The new GASB reports are meant to shine a light on pension debt and to show changes.

These changes are already visible for CalSTRS. The report shows a net pension liability of $58.4 billion. Next year, the report is expected to show an increase to $67.3 billion because earnings dropped nearly 14 percentage points.