How does changing school districts within the state of California affect my retirement eligibility and benefits?

Ask Jack Jack Ehnes

CalSTRS is the only pension system for California’s public school and community college educators. All public schools, community colleges and some charter schools participate in the CalSTRS comprehensive hybrid system. Retirement benefits and eligibility for full-time members are the same for all California public schools and do not change from district to district.

If you are employed to perform creditable service on a full-time basis, you will automatically become a member of the Defined Benefit Program on your first day of employment. You are eligible for a guaranteed lifetime retirement benefit when you have five years of service credit under the Defined Benefit Program 

However, there are potential differences between school districts in programs and eligibility for educators in a certificated position with a time base of less than half time. If you are a part-time educator, your employer must offer the Defined Benefit Program and may also offer an alternative retirement plan such as the Cash Balance Benefit Program or Social Security. Contact your employer for details about the programs offered. In addition, offering the Cash Balance program may be bargained. Contact your district, county superintendent of schools or union representative to find out if the Cash Balance program is available to you.