NWH Points Out District 155 High School Board Candidates Endorsed by Teacher Union

In its article on the Crystal Lake High School District 155 Board election Friday, the Northwest Herald did something I have not seen done before.

It identified which candidates were endorsed by the teacher union.

In my precinct letter, I do the same, as I did on my article on the literature of those pledging to cut taxes (happy to post the literature of other candidates, if they will email it to me):

The side of the tax cutters’ palm card has a comparison of the candidates for the Crystal Lake School Board.

A slate of four (the FINAL FOUR on the ballot) headed by McHenry County Board member Donna Kurtz, John Pletz, Raphael Kamner and Scott Vetter are running against three candidates endorsed by the District 155 teacher union.

I don’t criticize the teachers for wanting friendly Board members.

After all, who wouldn’t want friends on both sides of the union contract bargaining table. That is clearly in D155 high school teachers’ self-interest.

Everyone acts to improve their financial condition.

The average D155 salary last year was $87,363, according to the D155 2016 Educational Report Card, by the way.

Another source (Open the Books) reported 214 teachers and administrators earned over $100,000 in 2015.

The teachers’ union is supporting Ron Ludwig, Jason Blake and Nichole Pavoris.

The choice is clearly yours.

This is the first time I have seen the NWH tell its readers whom the District 155 Education Association is endorsing.


NWH Points Out District 155 High School Board Candidates Endorsed by Teacher Union — 8 Comments

  1. The Crystal Lake High School District (D155) 2016 Educational Report Card average teacher salary of $87,363 does not include stipends, and likely includes teachers and any administrators working less than full time.

    The Open the Books average of over $100,000 includes stipends and only includes only teachers and administrators earning more than the minimum salary on the teacher salary schedule, which weeds out at least those teachers who work less than full time and fall below the minimum full time salary.

    So full time teachers and administrators as a group on average earn more than $100,000 in CHSD 155.

    It would be interesting to know the average years worked.

    That information would be available by submitting a FOIA request to the TRS pension fund, asking for instance for a spreadsheet listing the employee name, the pensionable income for each employee, percent employed for each employee, and number of years of creditable service for each employee, in CHSD 155 in year 2016 (as well has how TRS measures a “year” for reporting purposes – is it fiscal year – what’s the fiscal year start and end – or is it calendar year).

    The same could be asked for FY 2015 or any other FY.

    FY = Fiscal Year

  2. Northwest Herald

    Stakes High in Crystal Lake based District 155 School Board Race

    – Opposing Slates, Incumbents Running For 4 Open Spots

    March 24, 2017

    by Brett Rowland

    “The candidates on the union slate are Ron Ludwig, Jason Blake, and Nicole Pavoris.”



    The Chicago Tribune back in the 1980’s at least occasionally included such coverage.

    As newspaper budgets were slashed due to declining ad revenue, reporters and editors were cut, resulting in poorer coverage of local politics.

    The editors are an important piece because they provide a second set of eyes and and experience, often resulting the reporter further refining the story through additions, clarifications, fact checking, etc. before the story is published.


    Teacher unions interview and endorse candidates for most school board elections.

    Susan Handelsman in the Woodstock school board election had a unique response to the teacher union questions this election cycle.

    In addition to providing the answers to the union, she posted also posted the questions and answers on this blog.

    Another candidate in the same election, Bill Nattess, whom has largely opposing viewpoints with Susan, responded by doing the same.

    Nice transparency to the taxpayers whom will be voting.

  3. Given the financial challenges facing D-155 over the next few years, it is imperative that the Board be led by those that will meet those challenges in a fiscally responsible manner.

    D-155, as well as many other local districts, is facing the problem of how to effectively manage in a declining enrollment environment and an efficient cost structure.

    Further compounding the problem is the fact that the State is currently laying a legislative minefield in front of school districts.

    School districts will be dealing with: 1) A levy freeze of a yet to be determined duration, 2) A change in the school funding formula by the State, and 3) Increased costs related to the pension program.

    School districts will need to adjust to an environment where existing union contracts expand labor costs at 3%-4% or more while levy revenue will be frozen for an extended period of time.

    As to changing the school funding formula, all previous legislative attempts were scored showing significant cuts to suburban districts.

    I expect the latest effort will further exacerbate suburban districts’ revenue issues.

    Lastly, having spent some time this weekend deciphering Althoff’s SB2172 regarding pension modifications, the State is planning to add some significant cost components onto the school districts.

    One of the most significant changes relates to pension spiking, typically seen as 4 year increases at 6%/year (6-6-6-6).

    Most districts have some form of this in their union contract.

    One of SB2172 changes modifies the employer penalty incurred for any excess salary over 6%, down to CPI.

    This penalty is the net present value of the excess benefit based on where the retiree sits on the actuary table, with an 8.5% return.

    It can be fairly onerous.

    The problem of course is that districts are now contractually committed to 6-6-6-6 and will have to pay significant penalties for the amount over CPI.

    My rough estimate is that the typical retiree will cost a district an additional $50+K penalty.

    And that’s not the only negative impact related to retirement costs featured in that bill.

    So, we’re left with a district that is declining in enrollment, is operating inefficiently, has a cost structure that is growing faster than its revenue, has excess facility capacity, and will face frozen levies, reduced State funding, and increased retirement costa.

    It is imperative that the new D-155 board possess the financial acumen and will power to address its challenges head on in the coming months.

    Failure to do so will have long term negative consequences.

  4. Some districts across the state have phased out the 6% annual hikes over the last 4 years.

    That is not as common as it once was.

    It is outrageous to have guaranteed 6% pay hikes in an employees last 4 years in today’s economic, tax, property value, and pension environment and has been since the mortgage meltdown.

    The Better Government Association has a collective bargaining database so one can more quickly access collective bargaining agreements from various districts.


    Would teachers go on strike if the district removes the 6% pay hike each of their last 4 years?

    Let them.

    Then explain the situation to taxpayers.

    Post their annual salaries for their career on a website (including pensions for those retired) for every single teacher that is working and retired from the district.

    Then explain the impact the pay hikes have on pensions.

    Then explain the TRS pension system is less than 45% funded.

    Then explain the amount the employer (school district) and state (on behalf of employer) contributes to the pension fund every year.

    More money to pensions means less to salaries and other uses.

    Then explain the GASB 68 proportional share of the unfunded liability that is attributed to the school district, in dollars.

    Then add that GASB proportional share to any bond debt service, so taxpayers can see how much debt is attributable to the school district.


    6% annual pay hikes for each of the last four years of a teachers career when the pension fund is less than 45% founded.


    Local taxpayers and the board are very weak negotiators to allow that to continue.

    Just say no.

  5. By the way no one is a perfect negotiator.

    But 6% pay hikes at the end of a career, per year, for 4 years (over 24% pay hike over 4 years when compounded) in an era of low inflation, high property taxes, good salaries without the 6%, good benefits, property values that have declined, etc. is low hanging fruit.

    The history of the end of career pay hikes is that at one time teacher and administrator pay was more modest.

    Before the 6% over 4 years, there were administrators and it seems to a lesser extent teachers earning 20% annual pay hikes over the last 3 years, or various other schemes.

    But even then, spiking the salaries resulted in spiked pensions to a TRS pension system that has always been underfunded.

    It’s a taxpayer ripoff and the laws and policy surrounding this have been broken for a long time.

  6. You Can Bet they had to get permission to print this !

    and I see the ones who voted for the Bleachers are off the list so I think we can easily deduct who gave them the permission to put this to print.

    No surprise here….hahaha…

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