With the Chicago Tribune pumping for school consolidation in its editorial on education, I thought it was time to re-run the article I wrote almost four years ago when Governor Pat Quinn advanced the idea.
The numbers will have changed since I wrote it, but the conclusion will be the same.
When high schools are consolidated with grade schools, salaries of elementary school teachers will be increased to equal those of high school teachers.
If for no other reason, that will occur because there are more grade school teachers than high school teachers.
They will control the teachers union.
The only way to save more money on the fewer administrators required in a consolidated (unit) district would be to keep salaries constant.
The chances of that are slim and none.
School Consolidation Would Cost Taxpayers Plenty
Governor Pat Quinn thinks that consolidating schools will save big money because fewer administrators would be required.
Reading the Daily Herald article, I notice that no mention is made of equalizing up elementary school teacher salaries to the level paid by the overlying high school districts.
All Quinn mentions is saving $100 million in administrative costs. That’s well under one-half of one percentage of what’s spent on schools in Illinois.
Pretty much peanuts, in other words.
The Northwest Herald has bought into the argument, also incorrectly assume that consolidating hundreds of school districts in Illinois will save big money.
“… there’s no good reason why towns such as Cary, Crystal Lake and McHenry should have separate elementary and high school districts.”
That’s what the Northwest Herald wrote Thursday. (Look quickly. Soon you will have to pay to see it.)
Might I suggest that a salary comparison be made?
Look what took me less than ten minutes to find.
High school salaries in District 155 are higher than those in Crystal Lake Grade School District 47, Cary Grade School District 26 and Prairie Grade School District 46.
Let me list them:
- Crystal Lake District 155 – $91,573 (412 teachers)
- Cary District 26 – $68,489 (198 teachers)
- Fox River Grove 3 – $60,507 (41 teachers)
- Prairie Grove District 46 – $59,840 (68 teachers)
- Crystal Lake District 47 – $57,788 (564 teachers)
The weighted average of grade school teachers in the three districts is $60,505.
The difference between the average weighted elementary school salary and the District 155 High School teacher’s average salary of $91,573 is $31,066.
Let’s do some multiplication.
First, let’s estimate. You know, what grade school students are taught to do.
What’s $31,000 times 900?
Hey, that’s over $25 million.
The exact figure is $27,058,486 my calculator says and it didn’t take tens of thousands of dollars paid to some Northern Illinois professors to figure that out.
So, let’s be rational and assume no teacher would be willing to take a pay cut and all grade school teachers would want to be put on the same salary schedule now enjoyed by area high school teachers.
Looking at these figures, it is hard to believe they would not expect an average raise of $31,000 if consolidation were to occur.
Now, I’ll admit that I have not made detailed comparisons to take into account the longevity bonus that high and grade school teachers get.
Maybe after making such adjustments the raise for unifying the pay schedules wouldn’t average over $31,000 a grade school teacher.
Pick your number and multiply it by 871.
Then, compare that mid-$20-some million number with the $100 million statewide savings that Quinn projects in savings from unneeded administrators.
Anyone think the savings by getting rid of redundant administrators within the Crystal Lake-Cary-Fox River Grove-Prairie Grove area would approach $25 million?
So why is the Governor proposing something that is going to cost every part of the state with both high and grade school districts big money?
Would I be being too cynical to suggest that Quinn may be trying to reward Illinois Education Association members who supported his re-election?
Would anyone think Illinois union leaders would let teachers in the same unified district be on two different pay scales?
The IEA Uniserve Directors would be knocking at school administrators’ doors the day after a merger. Maybe before.
Proof is how teacher unions won’t allow a consolidated school district to use even two different pay scales.
The elementary physical education teacher that teaches kindergarten P.E. classes is on the same pay scale as the high school math and science teachers.
Only in editorial and Quinn Fantasy Land unions would be helping to save money.
The result would be teachers hearing the sound of “Ca Ching!”
Years later you would likely read editors bemoaning how this couldn’t have been foreseen.
But that’s what collective bargaining will bring if all school districts are shoved into the unit district mold.
It will be the result of collective bargaining. You know, what the fight in Madison, Wisconsin, is all about.