Rosemary Kurtz Gains First Ballot Position in District 155 Race

Roesmary Kurtz

Roesmary Kurtz

Already the prohibitive favorite in the contest to fill three Crystal Lake High School Board posts, former State Rep. Rosemary Kurtz got a further boost from the removal of the only person ahead of her on the ballot.

Candidate Gerald Gross, who ended up in first place on the ballot, gathered only the minimum number of signatures required. (Guess he didn’t read the advice in McHenry County Blog.)

One of the signatures lacked the address information.

After its disqualification, Gross only had forty-nine signatures, one short of the requirement.

Challenges by Wonder Lake GOP Committeeman Bob Anderson against two candidates for Wonder Lake’s Harrison Grade School District Board–Laurie Alsot and Mark Nothdorf–were dismissed.

Anderson’s objections were technical in nature.

Anderson is running unopposed for a two-year term.

Three more petition challenges are being heard Thursday afternoon, starting at 1:15.


Rosemary Kurtz Gains First Ballot Position in District 155 Race — 12 Comments

  1. Exactly what we don’t need. More career politicians on the school board.

    We need new people to run, not the same old people going from one elected office to the next. Also, we could use some younger people in McHenry County politics. I imagine the average age of Mchenry County politicians appears to be about 70.

  2. Dear “Really?”,

    The people on the school boards are rarely career politicians because the job doesn’t pay and it doesn’t lead to higher office.

    Sadly, they are instead zealous advocates for the cause, people righteously in favor of whatever government they run for, as opposed to skeptical taxpayer watchdogs.

    Let’s be clear about Rosemary Kurtz.

    She’s a RETIRED “career politician”, by which I mean she is running for one reason and one reason only: civic mindedness.

    Which, by the way, characterized her entire career.

    So your snide, mean-spirited comments are off base.

    As for her age, that, too is just another bit of bile on your part.

    You have added nothing to the discussion except vitriol.

    Please let us all know our real name so if you ever choose to run for office we know who to vote against.

  3. Steve- I think folks in their 80’s should retire from public office.

    There should be an official retirement age for all those with elected offices.

    She lost an election earlier this year.

    Supposedly, she really wanted that job.

    Since she lost, now she wants to move on to another office?

    Some people like to see their names in the paper….

    I’d rather see people who’s kids are currently in school, or recent graduates of the district run for the board.

    They are more in-tune with what is going on today.

    We do live in the USA, and I’m entitled to my opinion, so I see nothing mean spirited in my comments.

  4. Dear “Really?”

    First, about your last comment.

    You’re right, we do live in the United States.

    And the government isn’t trying to prevent you from voicing your opinion.

    Neither am I.

    So you are indeed entitled to your opinion.

    That statement does not prove you weren’t being snide, and if you can’t tell by re-reading your statement that you were being snide about one of the great ones in this County, one of the true Grand Dames of local politics, a woman whose record is above reproach, well, I don’t know what to say.

    Second, I don’t remember Rosemary Kurtz running for anything this year, and I just double-checked online.

    Third, you are also welcome to your opinion about older people not being fit for public office, but I prefer to make my choices based on the facts concerning individual cases, not unfair generalizations.

    Do you even know Rosemary Kurtz?

    She’s as sharp as a tack, and twice as sharp as a lot of “younger people” on these boards.

    She’s a “common sense” person who favors lower taxes but balances that with need.

    She’s exactly the type of person who will ask why D155 spends 40% more than an adjoining school district but obtains essentially identical outcomes, a person who will ask why teachers in D155 get 50% more than the average pay for other high school teachers in McHenry County when there are no significant differences in tenure or education (neither of which is associated with actual educational outcomes anyway).

    So if you want to express your opinion, “Really?”, feel free.

    But expect some feedback when you make snide comments and negative generalizations, because I’m entitled to my opinion, too.

    And I back mine up with facts.

  5. Thank you, Steve.

    A little respect for our elders is always a good thing.

    Kind of shows just how much the folks are paying attention when they make “their” hallowed choices.

    Speaks volumes on “informed” voters. lol

    Rosemary and Donna are not interchangeable.

  6. It would be great if anyone, but especially non-incumbents running for Community High School District 155 (CHSD 155) school board, could watch videotaped archives of CHSD 155 meetings.

    But that can’t be done because CHSD 155 does not videotape board meetings and thus does not archive them on their website.

    Current Crystal Lake High School District 155 current board members:

    Ted Wagner — President
    Dr. Gary Oberg, MD
    ​​Jim Nelson
    Dave Secrest
    Barb Slusin
    ​​Ann Somers
    Karen Whitman

    CHSD 155 includes four high schools.

    Cary Grove High School, Cary (serves students from Cary, Fox River Grove, Oakwood Hills, and Barrington)
    Crystal Lake Central High School
    Crystal Lake South High School
    Prairie Ridge High School, Crystal Lake

  7. Rosemary Kurtz retired as an Illinois public school teacher (Spanish and History in District 155) in 1990 with 22.84 years of service (years of service for Illinois public school teachers and administrators is generally up to 2 years more than years worked).

    She receives a Teachers Retirement System (TRS) pension for that service.

    Rosemary Kurtz also served two teams as an Illinois State Representative in the 92nd General Assembly (2001 & 2002) and 93rd General Assembly (2003 & 2004) in the Illinois House of Representatives.

    The combined State House and State Senate is called the Illinois General Assembly.

    She receives a General Assembly Retirement System (GARS) pension for that service.

    TRS and GARS are two of the five “state” pension funds.

    The five state pension funds are five of the 19 pension funds in the Illinois Pension Code.

    In 2014 her TRS pension was $40,660.

    In 2014 her GARS pension was $10,675.

    In 20124 her combined TRS and GARS pensions were $51,335 for about 26 years worked.

    Those figures from Better Government Association and Open the Books pension databases, who obtain them from the pension funds themselves.

    Open the Books also has a Snapshot Spending Report (aka Local Spending Report) for District 155, and both organizations have salary and pension data for District 155.

    If one were to FOIA her (or any public school teacher or administrator or legislator or Governor) salary history from the pension funds you would find that lifetime employee pension contributions is low compared to lifetime salary and compared to pension payout.

    Particular situations vary, and since Rosemary retired in 1990 prior to the benefit hikes 1991 – 2014, her pension is not as generous as more recent retirees.

    TRS, GARS, and just about every public sector pension fund in Illinois is underfunded, most vastly underfunded, thanks to legislative pension benefit hikes (Rosemary herself voted on some of those benefit hikes as a State Representative) and local salary hikes that occurred while pensions were already underfunded, a completely idiotic practice.

    Of particular note, money diverted from funding pensions often goes in part to hiking salaries.

    Hiking salaries hikes pensions.

    Hiking pension benefits hikes pensions.

    Again legislative pension benefit hikes occurred in the same years pensions were underfunded and those hikes almost always were not properly funded, which is akin to charging a credit card while carrying a balance, it exasperates the problem.

    Next topic, unions.

    As a teacher in District 155 Ms. Kurtz most likely belonged to the High School District 155 Education Association, IEA-NEA.

    She could have opted out, but that is doubtful, because hardly any teachers opt out of paying union dues in Illinois, first because many don’t know you can do that, and second there’s a state law which says even if they opt out teachers still have to pay “fair share” dues.

    While fair share dues are less than full dues, they are still substantial.

    It’s also doubtful she opted out because the Illinois Education Association (IEA), one of two statewide teacher unions (the other is Illinois Federation of Teachers aka IFT), was the second largest contributor in her State Representative campaigns, right behind the House Republican Campaign Committee.

    Here’s how the unions are organized.

    Each school district (only a few school districts in Illinois have no teacher union) has a local teacher union.

    In Crystal Lake High School District 155, that union local is the High School District 155 Education Association, IEA-NEA.

    The IEA-NEA tag denotes the state union and national union.

    IEA = Illinois Education Association.

    NEA = National Education Association.

    IEA has further organized the locals into regions.

    High School District 155 Education Association is part of IEA Region 23, and that regional office is in Elgin at 2230 Point Boulevard, Suite 400.

    School board candidates are typically interviewed by the union at the union regional office to determine who the union will endorse for the upcoming school board election.

    Each IEA region has a UniServ Director.

    UniServ Directors serve many functions, and a major one is they are trained to assist the local union in collective bargaining agreement negotiations and grievances against the school board and administration.

    UniServ Directors have many tools at their disposal, including a sophisticated database used to analyze collective bargaining agreements of school districts throughout the state.

    That is the tip of the iceberg of how the unions are organized.

    Compare the union organization to the taxpayer organization.

    Most school districts don’t have a single watchdog.

    If there is a watchdog, that watchdog has no resources which come close to matching the union.

    Compare teacher union organization to the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) and the rest of the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance (IASM), which has no collective bargaining agreement database to match that of the IEA.

    Other members of IASM are the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA), Illinois Association of School Business Officials (IASBO), and the Illinois Principals Association (IPA).

    More on teacher unions in Illinois.

    There are two major teacher unions in the United States.

    NEA is one.

    AFT (American Federation of Teachers) is the other.

    AFT is the national teacher union for IFT (Illinois Federation of Teachers, mentioned above).

    The most notable union local for IFT is Chicago Teacher Union (CTU) which was the AFT Local 1, the first AFT teacher union.

    So given the fact she is a former public school teacher, was almost certainly in the teacher union, and that the teacher union contributed heavily to her State Rep campaigns, and that union lobbyists and activists have a very large determining effect In public education in Illinois and the United States, it’s unlikely she would advocate for much change to the status quo that would reign in costs.

    However, whatever she does want to change, she certainly does have relevant experience, including that of a parent and grandparent, even though public education has changed since she retired as a teacher in 1990 and State Rep in 2005.

    There are a lot of people upset with District 155’s lack of transparency regarding the Crystal Lake South High School installation of tall bleachers close to the property line of adjacent homeowners.

    But District 155 lack of transparency goes far beyond bleachers.

    One of Rosemary’s children is Donna Kurtz, a former McHenry County College Trustee and current McHenry County Board member.

    Sometimes the issue of teacher pensions comes up in school board elections.

    First, it’s not a school board issue.

    School boards do not determine pension benefits.

    State legislators determine pension benefits.

    But here is the largely untold story.

    1. Compare 1970 pension benefit levels to 2015 pension benefit levels for Tier 1 (Tier II is for teachers who began their career January 1, 2011 or after.

    Bill Zettler actually compared 1970 benefit levels to 2011 benefit levels in his book Illinois Pension Scam.

    2. The formula and rules to calculate the pension are different.

    3. The formula and rules are different, because state legislators changed the pension benefits.

    4. State legislators changed the benefits even though pension were already underfunded.

    5. Union lobbyists and teachers themselves advocated for the hiked benefits.

    6. The hiked benefits were not properly funded.

    7. Hiked state funding to pension contributions means less state funding to local schools.

    8. Locally, hiked salaries hiked pension contributions.

    Local school districts receive some funding from the State.

    If the State puts less to pensions and more to local schools, then local schools have more money to
    hike salaries.

    9. In summary, State legislators and governors ruined the public sector pensions in Illinois, and the
    public sector unions participated in that ruination.

    There is far more to the story than, the state didn’t make its full payment to the pension funds, the city didn’t make its full payment to the police pension fund, the fire district didn’t make its full payment to the fire pension fund, etc.

  8. I had to take issue with this comment:

    “Do you even know Rosemary Kurtz? She’s as sharp as a tack, and twice as sharp as a lot of “younger people” on these boards”

    Is this why, in her last campaign for state rep, the Daily Herald endorsed the Libertarian candidate (when have you ever seen that?) saying her grasp of the issues was weak?

    I’ve met her a few times and she’s far from sharp as a tack.

    She may be really nice and you may consider her a personal friend but she is not the sharpest crayon in the box.

  9. There are plenty of politicians that have served as school board members.

    Examples are Daniel Beiser, Jehan Gordon-Booth, Deborah Conroy, Anthony DeLuca, Mike Fortner, Kay Hatcher, Rita Mayfield, Jeff Mays, Pat McGuire, Robert Pritchard, Aaron Schock, & Chris Welch.

    Public schools have tons of Federal and State regulation, there is plenty of proposed Federal and State legislation every year, and school board members gain valuable experience dealing with public sector unions.

  10. Chase, you obviously did not attend this last weeks debate of the District 155 candidates.

    Rosemary Kurtz was the only candidate who had a depth of knowledge on a whole set of issues and took a decisive position on taxes, i.e. she won’t raise the tax levy–and explained why.

    I was impressed with her grasp of detail for issues such as the budget, i.e. deficit spending in 2014 and the implications this has on the current board’s lack of fiscal management.

    She also showed a lot of guts in laying on the line her concerns about lack of transparency with the current board–again, didn’t see that kind of insight or forcefulness from the others.

    We need what she could bring to the District 155 Board, and I think she is head and shoulders better than the rest.

    I have met her a few times too and thought she was intelligent and sincerely cared about this community.

    As far as the Daily Herald and crayon stuff..guess there is no accounting for taste.

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