D155 Teachers Union Defends Incumbent Board Members — 25 Comments

  1. The Teacher’s Union is sending you a message Folks.

    Illinois is a State run by the Unions, the IEA is one of the Largest Unions and they like total control of who is elected to our State.

    Now take a good look at the Financial Mess Illinois is in, thanks to the Teacher’s.

    Be careful who you listen to.

  2. Fiscal responsibility is “negotiating” a 12% raise over 3 years in a backdoor deal?

    Your taxes will go up about 6-7% sure to D155 being the largest portion of your tax bill.

    I truly hope that we get a full board that listens to the people it serves, unlike what this board has done.

    To ignore all the public comments like we don’t matter is a slap in the taxpayer’s face.

  3. The CHSD 155 teacher union skipped a year (2015-2016) on the chart in the post.

    It’s easier to explain if “2015-2016” is replaced with “2016” as the ISBE does in the Illinois Report Card.

    What actually happened is spending went down from 2015 to 2016, then up from 2016 to 2017.


    Here is the link to a more clear copy of the Operational Spending Per Pupil chart.


    The District 155 Education Association (EA) chart lists 3 columns:

    1. 2014-2015 Operational Spending Per Pupil

    2. 2016-2017 Operational Spending Per Pupil

    3. Percent Change.


    The missing column is 2015-2016.


    The data can be obtained from the Illinois Report Card.

    Here’s how to locate the CHSD 155 data on that website.

    Type “CHSD 155” in the search bar.

    Then select the enter key on the keyboard, or select the “search” button.

    In the next screen, in the upper right hand corner, select “View at a Glance”.


    “Operational Spending Per Pupil” is one measurement.

    Another measurement, also listed on the aforementioned “At A Glance” report, is “Instructional Spending Per Pupil”.


    Scott Coffey is an experienced and knowledgeable school board candidate.

    Can the union or anyone name another school board in Illinois with this many connections to educators?


    1. Jason Blake – Wife is a teacher at Cary Grove High School in CHSD 155.

    2. Amy Blazier – Father in law is a retired Crystal Lake Elementary District 47 Superintendent.

    3. Adam Guss – Wife is a teacher at Cary Grove High School in CHSD 155.

    4. Rosemary Kurtz – Retired CHSD 155 teacher. She’s probably the most critical board member.

    5. Ronald Ludwig – He is a teacher at South Elementary in Crystal Lake Elementary District 47,

    6. – His wife is a teacher at Indian Prairie Elementary in Crystal Lake Elementary District 47,

    7. – His daughter is a teacher at Indian Prairie Elementary in Crystal Lake Elmentary District 47,

    8. – His daughter in law is a teacher at Lundahl Middle School in Crystal Lake Elementary District 47,

    9. – His son is a teacher at Cary Grove High School in CHSD 155.

    10. – His son in law is a teacher at Cary Grove High School in CHSD 155.

    11. Nicole Pavoris – She is a teacher at Larkin High School in Elgin U-46.

    12. David Secrest – His wife is a nurse (a union covered position) at Prairie Ridge High School in CHSD 155.

    13. – His daughter is a teacher at Crystal Lake Central High School in CHSD 155.

  4. Sickening! Mark, thanx for the info!

    These IEA types are human leeches and ticks.

    These useless drones are pathological.

  5. Recall the campaign slogan used by Joe Tirio during his campaign for McHenry County Clerk, which he won on November 6, 2018?

    I won’t hire my wife.


    Re-purposing that to the CHSD 155 election:

    I won’t hike pay of my spouse, children, or in-laws.


    Meaning, I will not vote on a collective bargaining agreement that covers my spouse, children, or in-laws.

    Or better, I will not run for school board in a district that employs my spouse, children, or in-laws.


    CHSD 155 board members whose spouse, child, or in-laws is/are employed by CHSD 155:

    1. Jason Blake – Wife is a teacher at Cary Grove High School in CHSD 155.

    2. Adam Guss – Wife is a teacher at Cary Grove High School in CHSD 155.

    3. Ronald Ludwig – Son is a teacher at Cary Grove High School in CHSD 155.

    3. Ronald Ludwig – Son-in-law is a teacher at Cary Grove High School in CHSD 155.

    4. David Secrest – Wife is a nurse (a teacher union covered position) at Prairie Ridge High School in CHSD

    4. David Secrest – Daughter is a teacher at Crystal Lake Central High School in CHSD 155.


    So a marjority of the CHSD 155 board (4 of 7) has a wife, child, in-law, employed in CHSD 155.

    The 4 board members CHSD vote on the collective bargaining agreement for:

    – 3 wives

    – 1 son

    – 1 daughter

    – 1 son-in-law


    In the case of wives, the revenue the board members family receives from the pay hike is almost certainly more than the expenditure in property taxes to fund the pay hikes.

    Therein lies a financial conflict of interest.

    The board member benefits personally from the board action.

    Might be legal, but none the less a conflict.

    The board could create a nepotism board policy to prohibit such employment or votes.


    Here is the current CHSD 155 Board Member Conflict of Interest policy.

    +++++++ > Section 2 – Board of Education > 2.100 Board Member Conflict of Interest

  6. Devin Hester is the President of the local CHSD 155 Education Association teacher union, an IEA affiliate.

    (No relation to the ex Bears football player.)

    He is also a part time teacher at Cary Grove High School in CHSD 155, but getting paid as if he is a full time teacher.

    Hopefully CHSD 155 is getting reimbursed by the teacher union for some of his release time to perform union activities during the school day.

    He teaches three classes.

    Two periods of Rhetorical Analysis of Media, and one period of Advance Placement (AP) Language and Composition.

    The website indicates he is released from the other 6 periods to perform “Association Work.”

    Association work is teacher union work.


    Included on that CHSD 155 Cary Grove English Department website are Sharon Blake (wife of CHSD 155 Board member and board Vice-President Jason Blake) and CHSD 155 teacher union president Devin Hester.


    The CHSD 155 collective bargaining agreement (cba) was to expire June 30, 2019.

    But, at a school board meeting Thursday January 24, 2019, the school board voted to approve a new agreement, notably prior to the Tuesday, April 2, 2019 school board election.

    The union and board signed that new agreement Friday February 22, 2019 (did anyone see a news release?).

    The new agreement expires June 30, 2022.

    Meaning the new board will be stuck with the agreement until June 30, 2022.

    If the new board wants to negotiate a new agreement prior to June 30, 2022, the union would have to agree to a re-opener.

    The cba that was just signed is posted in the Human Resources Department section of the CHSD 155 website.

    Of the two CHSD 155 school board members running for re-election, Amy Blazier did not attend the Feb 22nd meeting (and thus didn’t vote whether or not to approve the contract), and Adam Guss voted in favor of the contract.


    Here is the language in the current and succeeding cba regarding Union President release time.

    “The president of the District 155 Education Association shall be released for five (5) periods per week from a non-classroom assignment to work on liaison between the different schools and to carry on other school business.

    In addition, the president may be released for up to ten (10) additional periods per week (including teaching assignments) at the discretion of the Association.

    The Association will pay the cost for staffing a replacement teacher for these additional periods.

    Further, should the replacement teacher require health insurance benefits, the Association will pay ofr the cost of the benefit package based upon the appropriate fraction of additional release time afforded the president.

    The Association will notify the District by March 1 each year as to how much release time the president intends to use during the following school year.”


    Per that language and Mr. Hester’s calendar on the CHSD 155 website, the union should be reimbursing the CHSD 155 for union president release time.

    Since there are 9 periods per day, subtract one for lunch and he teaches 3 periods, the district would have to explain to the public how this works.


    Devin Hester is married to Kristine Hester.

    Kristine Hester is a Choir teacher in the Choir Department at Cary Grove High School in CHSD 155.

    Kristine Hester is also on the Fox River Grove Elementary District 3 school board.

    She was elected to that position on April 4, 2017.

    Fox River Grove CSD 3 (elementary district) is a feeder district into CHSD 155 (high school district).


    Devin Hester’s pay increased from $49,359 in 2007 to $93,095 in 2017 in his 11.5th year teaching.

    Kristine Hester’s pay increased from $42,834 in 2006 to $87,414 in 2017 her 12th year teaching.

    $93,095 + $87,414 = $180,509, well above the average household income in the CHSD 155 attendance boundary.

    Source: Open the Books and ISBE TSR.

    They are both National Board Certified Teachers.


    They are both in the TRS Tier I pension plan.

    Thus if they never receive another raise and each achieve 35 years of service, their combined starting pension will be $180,509 x .75 = $135,382.

    That $135,382 would increase 3% annually.

    Thus they are each about 23 years from retirement (subtract a few years for exchanging unused sick days exchanged for years of service credit).

    Their combined pension will be far greater than $135,382 if they continue working in Illinois as educators until full retirement age.


    The TRS pension fund is 40% funded (60% unfunded).

    Meaning, 60% of the money that should be in the fund RIGHT NOW, is actually in the fund right now.

    Meaning, zero investment returns are being earned on the missing 60% of the money.

    That’s because the investment return on zero, is zero.

    Taxpayers are obligated for that entire unfunded liability, which for all 5 of the state pension funds (TRS, SURS, SERS, GARS, JRS) combined, using the rate of return and actuaries chosen by those pension funds is estimated at around $130 billion dollars.

    $130 billion dollars should be in the funds, right now, but is not.

    That represents work up until the measurement date (meaning past work).

    That’s not taking into consideration future work performed.

    Future work has nothing to do with the unfunded liability.


    During collective bargaining, pension funding is not a considering.

    So CHSD 155 hiked the salaries during collective bargaining, which most districts do, which hikes the state contribution requirement to the pension fund, which thus creates an even more underfunded pension.

    This is the endless cycle in Illinois.

    It is absurd.

    Think of it as charging more to a credit card on which you owe about 50% of what you purchased.

    Obviously you would owe a lot of interest.

    Taxpayers owe tens of billions of dollars in pension interest for underfunded pensions.

  7. To the Folks in Crystal Lake: Did you know there has never been a teacher’s strike in Crystal Lake from School District #47 or #155?

    The Union Controls the Community and your Real Estate Taxes keep going up . . .you will never own your home.

    The Dream of Home Ownership will never happen.

    Listen to Mark !

  8. Typo in the 02/24/2019 at 6:46 am comment regarding underfunded pensions.

    Should be:

    Meaning, 60% of the money that should be in the fund RIGHT NOW, is actually NOT in the fund right now.


    One of the districts the CHSD 155 teacher union included when comparing Operational Spending Per Student was McHenry CHSD 156.

    From the ISBE Report Card, here’s that comparison:

    District – 2017 – 2016 – 2015 – 2014 – 2013 – 2012

    CHSD 155 – $15,522 – $15,021 – $15,530 – $14,618 – $13,436 – $13,086

    CHSD 156 – $13,794 – $13,145 – $11,789 – $11,750 – $11,503 – $11,352


    CHSD 155 ($15,522 – $13,086 = $2,436

    CHSD 156 ($13,794 – $11,352 = $2,442

    Crystal Lake spent $1,728 more per student in 2017 that McHenry.

    Is the higher spending the reason Crystal Lake had better test scores?

    Is income level, property value, demographics, the amount of time parents spend helping their children with homework, the amount of money parents spend on tutoring, more stay at home moms in Crystal Lake?, there could be endless reasons for better academic performance, not just that taxpayers spend more money.

    Spending has increased about the same in CHSD 155 & McHenry CHSD 156.


    CHSD = Community High School District

  9. Mark,

    This has been some most excellent research, thank you, for providing it. This said, while you seem very amendment on these relationships within district employment and board members, you champion Mr. Coffey. It should absolutely be noted that Mr. Coffey’s daughter was hired as a teacher with district 26 during his board presidency. Please be sure to mention this while blaming the press for not doing the same thing in one of your posts.

    Now, I can enjoy me some statistics. Factually this has been indeed quite enlightening. However, the man who lives in the land of stats is blind to context. Have you spoken to any community members whom are employed by the district most recently run by Mr. Coffey?

    To quote one whom, I have talked to, “Working as a paraprofessional, I literally would have owed the the school district money in order to carry health insurance.” Meaning this person worked full-time as a public servant, adding value to the education system while not being able to support basic need. Living in the area on that type of wage is close to impossible, surviving, yes, living. Nope.

    Now, I bring this up because, as things move ahead on looking only at the statistical cuts (to taxes) you are posting, there is no acknowledge that Cary Junior High from years 2010 (75th)to 2018 (235th) has seen a steady decline in ranking among state schools ( Now, in fairness there were two years (2015-2016) in which it gained ground. However, it seems to take a quite sharp down turn when the new teachers’ contract went into action. How much take home pay did this save us (the tax payers)? Is it worth it?

    If we attempt the same angle of reform into D155 are we going to see the same results effecting the most important transitional educational point in students lives. If so, can we expect the decline to effect federal funds into the district, will taxes eventually need be levied anyway as a result?

    Last point, most people with in the school district whose children attend probably (see cost of living to median income/low income area living, in CL, Cary, Fox River Grove) are not sending their children to tutors/extra services. Having the school provide some of those services via the positions your selected choice has put on to the chopping block may be something that really impacts you, and the community you very much care about.

    There are indeed many places D155 can save some tax payer funds, but they are must more surgical than the approach that was taken with D26.

    In the end do you believe we are getting what we are paying for?

    Much Respect,
    Some Guy

    P.S. Before you ask, no, I am not a member of the Teacher’s Union.

  10. One more reason why the board of every local unit of government should have a nepotism policy including at the very least transparency of such relationships if not an outright prohibition; and a policy about board votes on matters involving said relationships.


    Healthcare benefit costs for paraprofessionals (unlicensed staff assisting licensed teachers) is an issue for many school districts in Illinois, and similarly for employers of lower waged workers in virtually all industries nationwide.

    As is the case in many school districts, the educational support professionals (ESP’s) are not covered by the teacher collective bargaining agreement (cba).

    Rather, the ESP’s have their own cba.

    The big picture is the administrators often have better benefits overall than the teachers (although many administrators work more days per year), and the teachers almost always have better benefits than the ESP’s.

    One option is for the administrators and teacher union to agree to lesser benefits, so the ESP’s can have better benefits.

    Obviously no one wants a reduction in benefits

    Some specifics from the 2017 – 2021 Cary CCSD 26 cba for ESP’s:

    “Board Contributions Toward Single Coverages

    The Board will contribute ninety percent (90%) of the then current HMO single premium toward whichever single group health and dental plan the employee selects, except that in no event will the Board contribute more than ninety percent (90%) of the actual single coverage selected.

    B. Board Contribution Toward Dependent Coverages

    The Board will contribute fifteen percent (15%) of the difference between the then current HMO single premium and the then current HMO family premium toward whichever dependent group health and dental plan the employee selects.”


    Speaking of healthcare benefits.

    The Obamacare Cadillac tax has repeatedly been postponed.

    That employer tax on generous employer provided healthcare benefits was supposed to help fund Obamacare.

    Many unions fought that tax, because they were fearful employers might cut some union member healthcare benefits to help cover the costs.

    One more reason the sustainability of providing current levels of healthcare service at current costs over the upcoming decades is an issue in many ways, on many levels.



    The link shows Cary Junior High ranked 235 of 1,285 in 2018.

    Where is the 2010 rank?

    What is the ranking criteria?


    Here’s the School Digger 2018 ranking for the other CHSD 155 feeder schools (ranking among 1,285 schools):

    Fox River Grove Middle School, District 3 – 193

    Richard F Bernotas Middle School, District 47 – 214

    Cary Junior High, District 26 – 235

    Prairie Grove Junior High School, District 46 – 272

    Lundahl Middle School, District 47 – 304

    Hannah Beardsley Middle School, District 47 – 630 is a service of Claarware LLC

    Claarware LLC is a one-person software development shop, founded in 2006 by Pete Claar.


    Haven’t heard of a single Cary Grove High School teacher or administrator say the kids from Cary Elementary District 26 are less prepared for high school than kids from the other CHSD 155 feeder districts, or seen any statistics to that effect.

    There are many different criteria which can be included or omitted when ranking schools including but not limited to:

    – Socio-economic factors

    – Free / reduced fee lunch

    – Teacher experience

    – Teacher quality

    – Race

    – Teacher pay

    – Household Income

    – Crime

    – Class size

    – School size

    – Cost per student

    – Did the student attend all day kindergarten

    – Did the student attend preschool

    – Education level of caregiver

    – etc.



    One of the biggest providers of tutoring services is retired teachers.

    Many reasons for that.

    They are experienced and qualified.

    They have the time.

    Most enjoy it, since 1 on 1 is easier than teaching a classroom.

    Nice to have some extra money, no matter how large or small the pension or retirement income (the “average” pensioner did not achieve a full 35 years of service).


    There are indeed many places D155 can save some tax payer funds…?

    Where was that message before Coffey decided to run?

    Why has that not yet been accomplished?

    Vote Coffey.


    The biggest problem in terms of sustainability of local school districts is only indirectly impacted by the local level.

    The biggest problem is the underfunded TRS pension fund.

    And the biggest cause of that is hiking benefits and pay while TRS was already underfunded, which has happened every single year since TRS has never been fully funded.

    What is the problem with underfunded penisons?

    Annual pension interest.

    Here is an example from the CHSD 155 FY 2018 CAFR.

    TRS Net Pension liability: $372,498,757.

    Assumed discount rate (interest rate): 7%

    $372,498,757 x .07 = $26,074,913.

    That’s almost unbelievable.

    Taxpayers incurred an estimated $26 million of debt for one year due to the unfunded pension liability of TRS.


    That $26 million is an estimate.

    It’s part of the process of calculating the annual unfunded liability.

    It’s amortized (spread) through the 2045 payment period (and even then pensions are to be 90%, not 100% funded).


    Pension interest, as in any interest, is a reason it is difficult to pay off debt.


    Can you imagine the interest that has been incurred due to CHSD 155 operations since the inception of TRS?

    $26 million is just for one year.

  11. Mark,

    Let me preface that I grew up here and then recently moved back to the area recently.

    Now, this is my first look more closely at local levels.

    Let’s say in my younger years, I was busy watching really stupid ideas pushed on the national and state level.

    While realizing even though I participated in elections my actual votes did nothing due to population trends.

    Thank you for your reply.

    Not going to say I put forth a good argument source wise.

    I grabbed what I could as someone who took notice of an article he read, looked it up and got what he got, with out being able to research deeply, the average voter (If you want to call it that.).

    So we agree on a lot.

    The first point for sure.

    Do either districts currently have any such restrictions?

    If not it is something that I think all candidates and voters in this election need to consider.

    On the health care for non-certified, though that is an awesome coverage percentage, are there any stats on ratio of health care costs to full-time average pay easily available?

    Just an interesting thing I would like to look into.

    I don’t mean to be insulting if it seems like I am asking you for research but it seems that you are

    1.Better at it than I am

    2.More savvy on finding it related directly to this topic

    Everyone reacted to the worst way possible to attempt to reform health care…………ever, we call, Obamacare.

    To varying degrees self interest is part of employment and business ownership.

    I don’t really fault the unions on fighting that for the employees.

    My research was pulled haphazardly, so, thank you for the frame of reference.

    I should have included scope and how that exact metric is decided and will look further into that idea before jumping to a conclusion.

    In the PC culture that is a school, and the huge liability behind someone saying a student was unprepared.

    You can barely do it in the private sector at this point.

    So, I would not fault any employee from taking the precaution to avoid that.

    Would a retirement incentive in a contract be something to help lower the growth of the principle we pay interest on, while a wider scope solution can be built?

    May I ask, what a viable solution to the growth of this principle is(this being the way to kill debt), what did Mr. Coffey do to ?

    Like most public debt, is this really even a payable debt or is it going to be the continued accumulation of credit to ensure that the pensions are funded?

    Do you happen to have the area averages as far as unfunded liabilities around D155?

    Did you by any chance find the unfunded liability accumulated by the feeder districts?

    I am asking because I am going to look closer into these things.

    I would greatly appreciate the conversation, if you are willing.

    I doubt you get many people that actually want to learn so hopefully, this comes off right. T

    Thank you.


  12. I read in another article that Coffey sat across the negotiation table for D26 from his daughter who is a teacher in the district.

    Is there any truth to that?

    If that’s true, why do district regulations or the union bylaws allow that to happen?

    It would seem the same this raise benefits his daughter that is brought up about the D155 Board members applies to Coffey and his daughter.

  13. The difference between District 155 Board President Adam Guss and Disgtrict 26 Board President Scott Coffeyt is that Coffey did not vote on the contract, while Guss did.

    And Guss told me he would not participate in the negotiations.

  14. Here’s a reprint of the above post, that being, the Crystal Lake High School District 155 IEA teacher union claim during the April 2, 2019 election cycle for the CHSD 155 school board.


    District 155 Education Association is [smiley face icon] feeling proud.

    February 21 at 2:27 PM

    Did you receive a letter in the mail that told you “The District 155 Board is Fixed”?

    We did, and we’re disappointed that Scott Coffey and Meghan Tillson have resorted to slandering the integrity of board members rather than dealing in facts and offering ideas of their own.

    Let’s set the record straight: The D155 board makes decisions that benefit our students and honor taxpayers.

    We spend about $2,000 less per pupil than the average Illinois high school district — that includes downstate districts where the cost of living is much less.

    We spend almost $4,000 less per pupil than the average of 32 high school districts in the Chicago area.

    When you combine that data with our students’ outstanding performance, it’s a great value for taxpayers.

    Any accusation that the board doesn’t serve the best interests of the community is not based in fact.

    Candidates who spread misinformation do so for a reason — they know the truth is not on their side, and they don’t deserve your vote.

    We support Adam Guss, Amy Blazier, and Tom Vaclavek for the D155 board.

    Adam and Amy are incumbents looking to continue their great work on the board, and Tom will help them do it.

    Vote for them on April 2 to keep our district on a path of educational excellence and fiscal responsibility.

    [The first comment under that post:]

    District 155 Education Association

    To save time fact-checking, here is the list of 32 high school districts in the
    Chicago area and their change in spending from 2015-2017.

    All data come directly from ISBE.

    Operational Spending Per Pupil (OSPP) Comparison

    District Name – 2014-15 OSPP – 2016-17 OSPP – Percent Change

    DuPage HSD 88 – $19,707 – $18,204 – (7.63%)

    Joliet Twp HSD 204 – $15,013 – $14,929 – (0.56%)

    CHSD 155 (Crystal Lake) – $15,530 – $15,522 – (0.05%)

    Township HSD 214 (Arlington Heights) – $19,850 – $19,921 – 0.36%

    Northfield Twp HSD 225 – $22,845 – $23,141 – 1.30%

    Evanston Twp HSD 202 – $21,939 – $22,273 – 1.52%

    Maine Township HSD 207 – $19,475 – $19,827 – 1.81%

    CHSD 99 (Downers Grove) – $16,871 – $17,658 – 4.66%

    CHSD 128 (Libertyville) – $22,028 – $23,079 – 4.77%

    CHSD 218 (Oak Lawn) – $20,034 – $20,992 – 4.78%

    Twp HSD 113 (Highland Park) $24,256 – $25,520 – 5.21%

    Adlai E Stevenson HSD 125 – $18,662 – $19,653 – 5.31%

    Lake Forest CHSD 115 $23,518 – $24,786 – 5.39%

    CHSD 117 (Antioch) – $16,649 – $17,634 – 5.92%

    Marengo CHSD 154 – $17,897 – $18,963 – 5.96%

    Glenbard Twp HSD 87 – $16,150 – $17,156 – 6.23%

    Township HSD 211 (Palatine) – $17,615 – $18,721 – 6.28%

    Richmond-Burton CHSD 157 – $15,184 – $16,307 – 7.40%

    Cons HSD 230 (Orland Park) – $15,199 – $16,385 – 7.80%

    Hinsdale Twp HSD 86 – $18,804 – $20,397 – 8.47%

    New Trier Twp HSD 203 – $23,571 – $25,665 – 8.88%

    Mundelein Cons HSD 120 – $13,355 – $14,598 – 9.31%

    Lyons Twp HSD 204 – $16,735 – $18,343 – 9.61%

    Bremen CHSD 228 – $15,247 – $16,745 – 9.82%

    Oak Park – River Forest SD 200 – $21,819 – $23,966 – 9.84%

    Rich Twp HSD 227 – $18,814 – $20,807 – 10.59%

    Bloom Twp HSD 206 – $15,803 – $17,562 – 11.13%

    Proviso Twp HSD 209 – $15,530 – $17,694 – 13.93%

    J S Morton HSD 201 – $11,285 – $13,015 – 15.33%

    Grayslake CHSD 127 – $16,550 – $19,099 – 15.40%

    McHenry 156 – $11,789 – $13,794 – 17.01%

    Niles Twp HSD 219 – $23,353 – $30,257 – 29.56%

    Averages – All Other Districts – $18,159 – $19,457 – 7.15%

  15. The data is also found in the FY 2017 Annual Financial Report that each school district files with the ISBE.


    Here is the ISBE repository of school district OEPP data.

    Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)

    Operating Expense Per Pupil (OEPP}

    Fiscal Year 2017 (FY 2017)

    Various paths to that document follow. > School Finance > Current Publications / Reports > Operating Expense Per Pupil (OEPP), Per Capita Tuition Charge (PCTC), and 9 Month Average Daily Attendance (ADA)


    Note, Illinois public school districts complete two types of Annual Financial Reports annually.

    1. The one each school district files with the ISBE.

    2. The audited annual financial report, which is completed by the auditors. Some school districts issue a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) which is a more complete audited annual financial report.


    Here is the ISBE repository of the annual financial reports which the school districts file with ISBE (1. above).

  16. Here was the claim made by the IEA local CHSD 155 teacher union (District 155 Education Association).

    IEA = Illinois Education Association

    “We spend about $2,000 less per pupil than the average Illinois high school district — that includes downstate districts where the cost of living is much less.”


    The FY 2017 OEPP for CHSD 155 was $15,522.


    The FY 2017 OEPP for the 96 public high school districts in Illinois was as follows, calculated from the linked spreadsheet:

    $1,558,840.88 total for the 96 high school districts.

    $16,237.93 average per high school districts.


    $16,238 average OEPP for 96 HSD – $15,522 CHSD 155 OEPP = $716 difference.

    HSD = high school difference.

    Calculations derived from the the FY 2017 ISBE OEPP report.


    So the FY 2017 OEPP for CHSD 155 was $716 less than average of all 96 high school districts in the state.

    Not “…about $2,000 less…”


    CHSD 155 ranked 49th highest of the 96 high school districts for FY 2017 OEPP.


    What is OEPP?

    From one of the ISBE websites listed above:

    Operating Expense per Pupil (OEPP)

    “The gross operating cost of a school district (excepting summer school, adult education, bond principal retired, and capital expenditures) divided by the nine-month ADA for the regular school term.”


    The average OEPP for all types of public school districts in Illinois (elementary, high, and unit) for FY 2017:

    $12,097.88 average per district. Round to $12,098.

    851 school districts (elementary, high, unit).


    OEPP is one of many financial measurements of a school district.

  17. typo in last comment.

    HSD = High School District


    Turns out the ISBE on the FY 2017 OEPP spreadsheet used a different calculation to determine the average OEPP per high school district.

    That being, Total Operating Expenditures of $3,849,260,661 / 9 month average daily attendance of 219,725.45 = OEPP of $17,518.50.


    As opposed to adding the OEPP of the 96 high school districts, and dividing the total by 96, which resulted in $16,237.93.


    Two different methods of calculating average OEPP of the 96 high school districts.

  18. In light of the two methods to calculate average OEPP, let’s again look at the CHSD 155 teacher union claim about CHSD 155 FY 2017 spending as measured by OEPP.

    “We spend about $2,000 less per pupil than the average Illinois high school district — that includes downstate districts where the cost of living is much less.”

    The teacher union was obviously referring to the $17,518.50 figure supplied by ISBE on the FY 2017 OEPP spreadsheet.

    ISBE used the grand totals of all HSD: Total Operating Expenditures / 9 month average daily attendance when calculating $17,518

    That’s one way to define OEPP for the average IL HSD.

    $17,518 if coming from an actual district would rank 40th of 97 HSD.


    Another way to define OEPP for the average IL HSD is to add the OEPP of all 96 districts, and divide the total by 96, which results in an average of $16,238.

    $16,238 if coming from an actual district would rank 47th of 97 HSD.

    The claim would then be:

    “We spend $716 less per pupil than the average Illinois high school district — that includes downstate districts where the cost of living is much less.”

    $16,238 – $15,522 = $716.


    $17,518 – $16,238 = $1,280 difference between the two averages.


    CHSD 155 ranked 49th of 96 HSD for FY 2017 OEPP, coming in at $15,522.


    The point being, there are different ways to define OEPP spending per pupil in the average Illinois high school district in FY 2017.

    1. Total Operating Expenditures of the 96 HSD / 9 month average daily attendance of the 96 HSD

    2. OEPP of the 96 HSD / 96


    OEPP = Operating Expense Per Pupil


    How about spending per pupil compared to other states (keep in mind their are high school, elementary school, and unit (combined high school & elementary school) school districts.

    Illinois Policy Institute

    Illinois Spends the Most Per Student of Any State in the Midwest

    by Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner

    February 27, 2017

    “Illinois already spends the most money per student of any state in the Midwest, the 13th-most per student in the nation, and far more than any other neighboring state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”

  19. Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)

    Operating Expense Per Pupil (OEPP)

    Crystal Lake High School District 155 (CHSD 155)

    Year – OEPP – Percentage Increase or Decrease

    2009 – $11,130

    2010 – $11,844 – 6.4%

    2011 – $11,911 – 0.6%

    2012 – $13,086 – 9.9%

    2013 – $13,436 – 2.7%

    2014 – $14,618 – 8.8%

    2015 – $15,530 – 6.2%

    2016 – $15,021 – (3.3%)

    2017 – $15,522 – 3.3%

    2018 – $15,686 – 1.1%

    2009 ($11,130) – 2018 ($15,686): 41%

    2009 – 2018 Inflation: 17.05%


  20. Illinois State Board of Education

    Operating Expense Per Pupil (OEPP)

    Cary Elementary District 26 (CCSD 26)

    Year – OEPP – Percent Change

    2009 – $10,055 –

    2010 – $10,329 – 2.7%

    2011 – $9,417 – (8.8%)

    2012 – $9,543 – 1.3%

    2013 – $9,769 – 2.4%

    2014 – $10,006 – 2.4%

    2015 – $10,393 – 3.9%

    2016 – $10,230 – (1.6%)

    2017 – $10,382 – 1.5%

    2018 – $10,214 – (1.6%)

    2009 ($10,055) – 2018 ($10,214): 1.6%

    Source: ISBE OEPP-PCTC report


    Scott Coffey was a member of the Cary CCSD 26 elementary School Board from December 2009 – April 2019, when he was defeated running for the CHSD 155 high school board.

    He has an accounting degree from the University of Illinois and is a CPA.

  21. Comparison of the percentage increase in OEPP from 2009 to 2018 between Cary elementary district and its feeder district, High School District 155


    Illinois State Board of Education

    Operating Expense Per Pupil (OEPP)

    District, 2009 (OEPP) – 2018 (OEPP) : Percentage Increase or Decrease

    Crystal Lake High School District 155, 2009 ($11,130) – 2018 ($15,686): 41%

    Cary Elementary District 26, 2009 ($10,055) – 2018 ($10,214): 1.6%


    2009 – 2018 Inflation: 17.05%


    High schools in CHSD 155:

    – Cary-Grove High School, Cary

    – Crystal Lake Central High School, Crystal Lake.

    – Crystal Lake South High School, Crystal Lake.

    – Haber Oaks (alternative school), located in Crystal Lake South.

    – Prairie Ridge High School, Crystal Lake.


    Elementary districts that feed into CHSD 155:

    – Cary elementary district 26

    – Crystal Lake elementary district 47

    – Fox River Grove elementary district 3

    – Prairie Grove elementary district 46


    The main point was to compare the percentage increase.

    In terms of comparing OEPP costs expressed as a number and not a percentage, elementary districts are compared to elementary districts, high school districts are compared to high school districts, and unit districts are compared to unit districts.

    So typically the OEPP cost (measurement) of an elementary district is not compared to the OEPP cost of a high school district.

    One reason, for example, is teachers in an elementary district in a given socio-economic area are paid less than teachers in a high school district, with unit districts falling in the middle.

    The percentage increase of the OEPP cost (metric) however is an acceptable comparison.

    That for example would take into account the percentage increase in employee pay hikes in the elementary and high school district.

  22. From 2009 to 2018, operating expenses per pupil increased 41% at Crystal Lake High School District 155 compared to 1.6% at Cary Elementary District 26.

  23. Northwest Herald

    Crystal Lake Community High School District 155 approves 2.75% tax levy increase

    By Cassie Buchman

    November 26, 2019 12:45 am

    “The district said this is to cover its three-year planned installation of air conditioning at Cary-Grove and Crystal Lake Central High Schools.

    The district’s tax extension increased by 1.3% from 2014 to 2018.”


    Illinois Report Card

    CHSD 155


    2019 – 5,973

    2018 – 6,113

    2017 – 6,277

    2016 – 6,515

    2015 – 6,634


    Enrollment decreased from 6,634 in 2015 to 5,973 in 2019.

    Enrollment decreased 10% from 2015 to 2019.


    School districts report different types of enrollment figures.

    These figures are what is known as “fall enrollment.”

    The Illinois State Board of Education has fall enrollment figures on its website.

    The 2014 fall enrollment figure for CHSD 155 was 6,694.


    The district’s enrollment decreased 8.7% from 2014 to 2018, as the district property taxes increased 1.3%.

    Why are property taxes increasing as enrollment is decreasing?


    On Thursday January 24, 2019, the CHSD 155 school board approved a new teacher collective bargaining agreement (cba) covering July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2022.

    The district’s cba found on its website, as is required by state law.

    The cba contains the salary schedule and the stipend schedule, which are the major components of teacher pay.

    The biggest expenditure for a school district is teacher pay and benefits.


    The teacher and administrator pension plan is called TRS.

    TRS is about 40% funded, meaning it has about 40 cents for every $1 it should have.

    Pensions are designed to be 100% funded.

    Anything less than 100% means taxpayers make up the difference in what can be called pension interest.

    TRS is a state pension plan, and is the biggest of the five “state” pension plans.

    The TRS unfunded liability (taxpayer IOU to the pension fund) is a state taxpayer responsibility.

    State revenues include state income taxes and state sales taxes.

    Only a small percentage of the annual “employer” contribution to the TRS pension fund comes from the local school district (and thus local property taxpayers).

    The majority of the annual employer contribution to the TRS pension fund comes from the state.


    The most recent school board election was April 2, 2019.

    Typically in Illinois school board members are cheerleaders for the school district who vote for property tax hikes and were endorsed by the teacher union during the election cycle.

    The teacher union often helps promote their endorsed candidates, as occurred in this past election cycle in CHSD 155.

    The teacher union wants tax hikes to fund teacher salary and benefit hikes, improved working conditions that benefit teachers such as facility improvements, and other expenditures related to teachers.

    Obviously such expenditures often benefit students in some direct or indirect fashion, and not surprisingly fear tactics are often used by teacher unions that reigning in spending beyond what their candidates endorse will harm students.

    The two candidates most willing to scrutinize and contain or reduce CHSD 155 expenditures in the April 2, 2019 election cycle were Scott Coffey and Meghan Tillson.

    They were defeated by Amy Blazier, Tom Vaclavek, and Adam Guss.

    The election results:

    Amy Blazier – 4,819 (24.46%)

    Tom Vaclavek – 3,830 (19.44%)

    Adam Guss – 3,331 (16.91%)

    Meghan Tillson – 3,102 (15.75%)

    Scott Coffey – 2,916 (14.80%)

    Jacob Justen – 1,700 (8.63%)

    Total votes – 19,698

    The results are on the McHenry County Clerk website.


    There are seven members on most school boards, including the CHSD 155 school board.

    The other current CHSD 155 school board members are Jason Blake, Amy Blazier, Ron Ludwig, and Nicole Pavoris.

    The will be up for re-election on April 6 2021.


    CHSD 155 narrowly missed receiving a state Property Tax Relief Grant in 2019.

    Scott Coffey made this comment about that article on February 1, 2019.

    “I always thought this was a bad list to be ranked high on.

    It means your district’s tax rate is excessive.”

    The intention of lawmakers in creating this grant was for school districts in struggling communities with high property tax rates, such as Ford Heights, Dolton, etc.

    That didn’t necessarily happen, so after the winning list was revealed, there was a movement to change the law.


    The property tax relief grant was part of House Bill 5812 (HB 5812), which passed under the leadership of House Speaker Michael Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton, and Governor Bruce Rauner and became Public Act 100-0582 (PA 100-0582) on March 23, 2019.

    HB 5812 > PA 100-582.


    HB 5812 was the second of at least two trailer bills to become law, following the passage of new public education school funding formula.


    Trailer bill #1 –

    Senate Bill 0444 (SB 0444) became Public Act 100-0578 PA 100-0578) on January 31, 2019, when the House and Senate overrode Governor Rauner’s veto of the bill.


    New education funding formula –

    Senate Bill 1947 (SB 1947) became Public Act 100-0465 (PA 100-0465) with Governor Rauner’s approval on on August 31, 2016.


    So there are some of the politics that led to the current high tax, high debt predicament in Illinois at the state and local governmental levels.

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