Charles Richardson's been teaching at the Haugan Elementary School for 36 years. "I love teaching, I think I was born to do it," he said.
Wynetta Thomas was a Chicago school nurse for 35 years.
Now, after so many years of loyal service to the public schools, both Richardson and Thomas would like to plan for their retirements. But nobody can tell them exactly how much pension they've earned for their decades of work.
"I'm disappointed that my retirement is not all I thought it would be, because of this situation here with my pension," said Thomas.
"It's just unconscionable to have so many teachers who have worked their lifetime who are now depending on their retirement moneys and are not getting them," Chicago Teachers Pension Fund Board of Trustees Vice President Linda Goff said.
The Pension Board blames the Board of Education. The Pension Board even filed a lawsuit, claiming the Board of Education "has failed to provide sufficient records ... so that pensions can be estimated and calculated properly." The lawsuit claims the problems began with a new payroll software called Peoplesoft.
Mather High School Principal John Butterfield retired in 2007, the first year Peoplesoft was used.
"I went almost a year and a half without the correct numbers," said Butterfield. "Not because of anything the Pension Board did, but because they couldn't get accurate data from the Board of Education."
According to records obtained by Fox Chicago News, all of the retirees from 2007 have now gotten their final figures. But 70 teachers who retired in 2008, and 89 teachers who retired last year still don't know exactly what their pensions will be. At best, they can only get an estimate.
The Pension Board says it's not just retirees who are affected by this problem. There are some 35,000 active teachers who cannot get accurate figures on what they'll receive when they retire.
"People are trying to make plans for the future," Chicago Teachers Union President Marilyn Stewart said. "They need to know: `Should I retire now, should I wait?' They're entitled to have the right information."
School officials say they sympathize with the teachers. They say the problems occurred because of new work rules that took effect at the same time as the Peoplesoft software, rules that made teachers more accountable for their hours, and complicated teacher pension payments.
It's the Pension Board, says the Board of Ed, that is letting the teachers down.
"Ultimately," says Jerome Goudelock of the CPS Human Capital Department, "I would say we are providing the data that would allow them to be able to finalize and give correct pension information."
The Pension Board doesn't buy that explanation, saying data for thousands of teachers is missing or inadequate. And teachers say they're tired of not knowing just what the future holds for them.
"It's a big deal," said Richardson. "There are so many unanswered questions, financially for me, that it's hard to plan."