Contribution Rates Also Factor in System Health

The Kansas City Public School Retirement System (KCPSRS) has been very well funded over the last fifteen years and had twelve straight years with a funding level in excess of 100% from the beginning of 1997 through the end of 2008. In the last three years the funding level has moved from 99.4% to 93.1% to 84.9% last year. Pension experts tell us that a plan funded at better than 80% is very healthy. But how is the funding level calculated, and is the funding level the only determinant of the health of a pension plan?