School board chairman Tom Bowen said the board did not act improperly and has the right to amend its own policies. According to the suit, the board voted to waive the two-year notice in 2010, a year after the contributions were halted.
Bowen added that the decision to suspend payment into the fund was not a secret – it was visible in public budget documents prior to taking effect.
“A board can waive or go against its own policy because the board is the policy-setting body," Bowen said. “The [retirement plan] is a discretionary employee benefit that is over and above the teacher retirement system. It’s an added benefit the district just could not afford having deficits to the extent of $100 million.”
The district is not expecting a deficit this year, but Bowen said he did not know yet whether contributions would resume.
The suit seeks repayment of past contributions and future payment until proper notice is given.