Comparing How Schools Spend Our Money, Plus the Richmond-Burton High School Contract Impasse

There is an impasse between the school board and the teachers union in Richmond’s high school district.

Each side had to submit the latest version of what it wants to a state web site.

The union’s desires can be found here.

The school board’s proposal is here.

For various reasons, I don’t have the time to analyze what the two sides want, but I did find the Richmond Burton Education Association’s presentation of how various school districts (most local) spend taxpayer money of interest and think you will, too.

Sch Dist Budget Analysis District namesSch Dist Budget Analysiis 2013
Averages mentioned in the heading refers to the 2009-2013 Fiscal Years.

It should be noted that elementary, high school and unit (K-12) districts are intermixed on the chart.  It is very difficult to compare the three types of district.s

The Illinois Education Association local notes, ” The Chicago Sun Times found that out of the 21 schools in our comparison group, Richmond Burton had the third highest PSAE score but ranked near the bottom in top masters pay.”

One can draw various conclusions from that statement.

The teachers undoubtedly put it in to show that they are underpaid.

Some taxpayers might conclude that student performance is not related to teacher pay.

The school board summarizes its proposal below:

Richmond sch bd summary p 1Richmond sch bd summary p 2





Comparing How Schools Spend Our Money, Plus the Richmond-Burton High School Contract Impasse — 12 Comments

  1. 6% end of career salary hikes should be ended immediately for all employees, not just new hires.

    Many districts have already done so.

    To not do so is irresponsible given the pension fiasco.

    The teachers want to have their cake and eat it to.

    They want their salary increases, pensions, end of career salary increases, healthcare benefits, etc.

    They want to take no responsibility for the pension mess, yet these contracts are in part responsible for the pension mess.

    The unions just say, well the board approved it.


    Look, what teachers do in collective bargaining is look at the school district budget and take as much of it as they can for themselves.

    It’s as simple as that.

    Actually, they do more.

    The union has a comprehensive contract management system with all school district collective bargaining agreements which is used for comparison, planning, and negotiation purposes.

    Do you think your school board has such a system with all school districts?


    No why hasn’t the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance created a system to rival that of the unions?

    Your school board is outmatched from the get go.

    Just because the district can afford it and just because the agreement does not require the district to ask for “additional funding” doesn’t mean the teachers should get everything they ask for, because the district has a lot of other items they can spend money on as well.

    Administrators have little incentive to reign in costs, because if teacher pay increases, administrator pay is typically increased too, everyone is a winner.

    Here’s a line from the union proposal.

    “Maintain common practice retirement incentives for all teachers.”

    The union is referring to the 6% end of career salary increase.

    The union knows that 6% has been eliminated in many districts.

    The union knows the TRS pension fund is less than 50% funded and the 6% increases the state funding.

    They don’t care if the 6% makes the TRS pension underfunding problem worse.

    It’s a money grab.

    As far as they are concerned, if the board agrees to it, then it’s legal, and the 1 sentence added to the 1970 Illinois State Constitution stating pensions are contractual and cannot be diminished or impaired protects their pension.

    And for some reason this board thinks the 6% should remain for everyone but new hires.

    That is irresponsible of the board.

    The board can better spend its money in other places and do their part to lessen the pension burden on taxpayers.

  2. Mark it was 2:08 A.M. go to bed already.

    Do you always write a two page comment?

  3. Here’s my proposal REA.

    1. Tell your members to get back to work, or they can stand outside this Fall/Winter, with picket signs and watch us hire from the pool of 100 K currently working in restaurants waiting tables.

    2. Oh and that Pension? Tell your members if they want to stay, we’re converting their current pension plans into a 401 K, based on what they have actually contributed. Just like the Private Sector has been doing for the past 40 years.

    Any questions refer to 1.

  4. I appreciate and learn much from Mark’s well researched comments.

  5. What an excellent opportunity for Unions to recognize aberrational spending patterns pointed out by government generated statistics, and force a value shift away from exorbitant spending on Admin, or Food Service, or ‘Other’ back to spending on Instructional salaries.

    Comparing average financial expenditures by schools considered ‘peers’ by a government statistical website*,
    offers a peer comparison (nationwide) in many categories.

    **Look at Richmond-Burton CHSD 157 statistics, as they relate to assertions made by Union above.
    Statistics which stand out:

    1. Administrative Spending=$1775 per student vs. peer average of $1277. Framed as a similar percentage to instructional spending cited above, the district spends 139% of average (peers) on Administration.

    2. Operation, Food Service, Other Spending= $4068 per student vs. peer average of $2025. Framed as a similar percentage to instructional spending cited above, the district spends 200% (DOUBLE!!) of average (peers) on Operations, Food Service, Other.

    Unions will be serving their members well if they lead the charge to reduce inflated spending on Admin and ‘other’ so as to be able to increase teach salaries.

    go to Menu: Data&Tools
    choose : Peer Comparison Tools
    select: Public School District Finance Peer Search


  6. Who buys into the Richmond teacher union argument that teachers need a 6% end of career salary increase?

    How many occupations do you know that receive a 6% end of career salary increase, each of their last 4 years?


    That’s 24% salary increase over 4 years.

    Actually more because of compounding.

    That’s insane.

    In today’s economy.

    What, if they don’t get their 24% increase they are going to leave?

    And find another school district that’s going to pay them their current salary + the 6%?


    It’s a money grab.

    It has nothing to do with educating kids.

    Read their proposal.

    The teacher union claims it has something to do with teachers not getting social security.

    They expect the public to believe that?

    Incredibly the Richmond school board agrees.

    The Teachers Retirement System of Illinois (TRS) pension fund is WAY WAY WAY more generous than social security and any 401k plan.

    The argument makes no sense whatsoever at all.

    And the fact the public is not outraged kicking and screaming would seem to indicate the public either has no clue about TRS pension math or feels they are powerless to influence the Richmond school board.

  7. Here is what the Richmond Burton Education Association (RBEA) proposal says about the 6% per year salary increase, for each of the teachers’ last 4 years of employment with the district prior to retirement, which is 24% (plus compounding) over 4 years.

    Page 2
    4. Maintain common practice retirement incentives for all teachers.

    Page 11
    Due to the absence of social security, the conservative salary schedule offered by the District, and common practice in other districts, the RBEA wants to maintain the delayed retirement benefit that increases a teacher’s
    salary by 6% a year for four years at the end of an employee’s career.

    Page 12
    Richmond Burton EA (Education Association) aka Union
    Delayed Retirement Benefit: Maintain Retirement 6% Benefit that ensures teachers are able to retire due to the absence of a social security benefit that private sector employees get.

    District 157 (Richmond Burton Board)
    Delayed Retirement Benefit: Remove the 6% retirement benefit for new hire.

    Difference in Cost to the District
    Delayed Retirement Benefit: There are no teachers who would retire during the life of this contract, there is no added cost to the district over the next 5 years.

  8. Now is the ideal time for the Board to end the 6% salary hike per year for 4 years (24% over 4 years).

    The union proposal states there are no teachers who would retire during the life of this contract.

    Thus no teachers would be affected.

    The union logic for why teachers deserve a 6% salary annual salary hike for each of their last 4 years of employment is without merit.

    Teachers do not receive Social Security, because they do not contribute to Social Security.

    Teachers do not contribute to Social Security, because the Federal Government exempts them from doing so.

    The reason is TRS is more lucrative than Social Security.

    So the union is claiming that even though teachers don’t contribute to Social Security, even though the teacher pension is more lucrative than Social Security, teachers deserve a 6% annual increase each of their last 4 years prior to retirement, because of the absence of a social security benefit that private sector employees get?

    That makes no sense.

    Furthermore, Social Security is not limited to the private sector, some public sector workers also
    contribute to Social Security.

    Guess what.

    Very few if any private sector employees receive a pension as lucrative as a TRS teacher / administrator

    But that’s not enough.

    The teachers want more.

  9. Here are the Richmond Burton High School District 157 board members.

    Steve Holtz, President
    Dave Thomas, Vice President
    Michelle Graham, Secretary
    Tom Gough
    Jennifer Read
    John Schleibinger
    Tracy Highley

  10. The Northwest Herald has an article about the teacher union negotiations impasse with the Board.

    Northwest Herald

    Our View: Don’t strike in District 157

    Sept. 4, 2014

    The Richmond-Burton CHSD 157 website contains a press release about the negotiations.

    FOR RELEASE August 29, 2014

    Contact: Steve Holtz, Board President


  11. I don’t understand anything that the board is doing here.

    Next year’s levy is capped at 1.7%, the following year at 1.5% and yet base BA increases are more than double that at 2.5% step plus 1.0% (3.5%).

    And MA increases are even worse at 2.5% Step plus 2.0% or 4.5%!!

    Tuition reimbursement rates are going up by 39.5%.

    Extra-Curricular pay increases exceeding CPI at 2.5%-3.0%.

    Who knows how many teachers currently taking classes that are in a BA lane will now move over into the higher paying MA Lane.

    Increases to Lead Teacher pay.

    The 6%/4 Years retirement program is not being touched for existing employees.

    That’s a disaster looking for a place to happen.

    Of course we still have the impending impact of health insurance premium increases on the horizon that are probably in the double digit range.

    And lastly, you have the impact of SB-16 school funding reform legislation, that as it currently stands, will eliminate state funding to D157 by $408,000 per year.

    With levy revenue growing at less than 2%/year and State funding projected to be cut by 60%, how can they offer INCREASED salaries and benefits over the next FIVE YEARS?

    Are they intentionally trying to crater the district?

  12. Richmond-Burton CHSD 157 School Board
    FOR RELEASE August 29, 2014
    Contact: Steve Holtz, Board President.
    he Board of Education received a Notice of Impasse from the Richmond-Burton Education Association on the morning of August 15, 2014.

    The Board negotiating team met with the union negotiating team and a federal mediator on June 19, 2014.

    At the conclusion of that session there were only two items that stood in the way of an agreement:

    1. The union’s request for an additional .5% on the base salary of the master’s level lanes in the fifth year of the agreement.
    The parties agreed to all other base pay increases.

    2. The Board’s request for the elimination of the end of career salary increases of 6% a year for 4 years for teachers employed after August 1, 2014.
    The union asked to limit the salary enhancements to 4.5% a year for teachers hired after February 1, 2015.

    On August 14th, the parties met and the union rejected the Board’s offer. The union also withdrew its offer to eliminate end of career pay increases for teachers hired after February 1, 2015.

    The parties met again on August 26th.

    At that time the Board agreed to the additional pay increase only if the union would agree to eliminate end of career pay increases for all future employees.

    The offer would not impair the end of career retirement pay increases for any current teacher.

    The Board’s August 26th offer would result in a total pay increase of 3.5% for the bachelor’s level lanes in each of the first four years of the contract (including step), with a 3% raise in the fifth year of the contract for the bachelor’s level lanes (including step).

    In addition, the Board’s August 26th offer would result in a total pay increase of 4.5% in each year of the five year contract for the master’s level lanes (including step).
    The union rejected that offer.

    The Board acquiesced to nearly all the union’s demands.

    The Board maintained its current level of contributions for health insurance and additionally agreed to pay for dental insurance—an annual cost of $25,112 for the District.

    The Board agreed to all but one of the requested base salary increases and additionally agreed to pay step increases for eligible teachers.

    Step increases are pay increases granted simply for gaining one year of seniority for eligible teachers and amount to a 2.5% pay increase in addition to a base pay increase.

    The Board also agreed to the following:

    – Increasing the amount of available tuition reimbursement from $215 per credit hour to $300 per credit hour.

    – Increasing the in-school substitution rate from $25 per class period to $28 per class period.

    – Increasing the curriculum development and school improvement planning rate from $25 per hour to $28 per hour.

    – Increasing term life insurance from $25,000 to $50,000.

    – Increasing Lead Teacher’s Pay from $3,350 plus $125 per teacher under their jurisdiction per school year to $3,517.50 plus $131.25 per teacher under their jurisdiction per school year.

    – Increasing the extra-curricular salary schedule by 2.5%, 3%, 2.5%, 3%, and 2.5% respectively over the five year contract.

    The Board also received a 10 day “strike notice” on August 15th.

    The Board is hopeful that the union team conveyed the terms of the Board’s offer to its entire membership prior to taking a strike vote.

    Pursuant to Illinois law, the Board and union submitted their “Most Recent Offers” to the Illinois

    Educational Labor Relations Board (“IELRB”) on Friday, August 22, 2014.

    Those submissions are now available online on the District’s website at and the IELRB website at

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