D47 Teacher Contract Approved; Objection to Retirement Incentive

Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47′s Board approved the new teachers’ contract by a 7-0 vote, but not before Nancy Gonsiorek expressed displeasure with pre-retirement incentives.

They’re “really hard to swallow,” she said.

“When we give big raises to teachers [at the end of their career], it drives up the cost of those pensions.”

The CPA pointed out that for every 5 1/2 teachers who retire from District 47, the pensions cost state taxpayers “a million dollars.”

While, currently, the state picks up the bill, Democratic Party House Speaker Mike Madigan wants to transfer the burden to local property taxpayers.

“It may be different buckets the money is coming out of, but it’s still coming out of the pockets of the taxpayers.”

Before offering her objection, Gonsiorek pointed out that District 47 “is more fiscally responsible that most school districts in McHenry County.”

Ryan Farrell and Nancy Gonsiorek both objected to the retirement incentives in the contract.

Ryan Farrell and Nancy Gonsiorek both objected to the retirement incentives in the contract.

Echoing Gonsiorek’s comments was Board member Ryan Farrell.

He noted that the argued financial incentive for the District of hiring lower paid teachers to replace the retirees disappeared “if that incentive is exactly the same forever.”

Board President Jeff Mason explained that the contract “conversations were very worthwhile, reasonable.”

The contract, he said, “recognize the value the teachers bring to the community.”

He praised the teachers’ negotiators for keeping their “eyes on the classroom.”

Crystal Lake Grade School District teachers applauded the board's ratification of the contract.

Crystal Lake Grade School District teachers applauded the board’s ratification of the contract.

Details of the contract can be found here.

The Board also ratified a contract with para-professionals.

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I praised the board for releasing the contract prior to voting upon it, explaining that it was only the second local school board I knew of that had done so. (The other was the Huntley School District while Larry Snow was on its board.)

I compared District 47′s transparency with the total lack thereof by McHenry County College, whose board is expected to approve the still secret contract Thursday night.

MCC Refuses to Release Faculty Union Contract

Tonight Crystal Lake Grade School District 47 Board is meeting at 7 at Canterbury School southwest of the intersection of Main Street and Virginia Street Road to consider the contract worked out with its teachers’ union.

Another contract has also been settled:  that between McHenry County College and its faculty union.

While District 47 posted its contract information (apparently some time this weekend), MCC refuses to do so before it is ratified by the junior college board on Thursday night.

I asked public relations person Christina Haggerty whether the contract had been posted and, if so, if she would send me a link.

There will be no chance for taxpayers to see the details until after one of the biggest expenditures is already approved.

Her reply:

“No- the Board votes on it this Thursday, after which point the contract when approved will be posted.”

The McHenry County College Board.

The McHenry County College Board.

I asked under whose authority it was not to be posted and have received no reply.

Megan Wilson Wins Huntley Tea Party Essay Contest

A press release from the Huntley Area Tea Party:

Megan Wilson

Megan Wilson

At the monthly meeting Huntley Area Tea Party presented its 2014 ACADEMIC AWARD to Megan Wilson, graduating senior at Huntley High School, for her winning essay in the competition, “U.S. Constitution – Bill of Rights” program sponsored by HATP supporters through individual donations.

Megan’s essay selection was Amendment I with focus upon the significance of free speech and in the printed word to be found there.

Her title, “INK”, included references to our founding documents, specific cases, past and present, dealing with issues surrounding print publications, complaints or challenges made, courts’ findings and actions by local authority in their outcomes.

Her ability to capture both the statute as well as the spirit of this guaranteed American freedom was noted by the independent three-judge panel in their selection from among finalists’ essays.

The award includes a $1000 credit for educational materials at the college of her choosing.

Megan has chosen DePaul University and will begin classes this year.

CONGRATULATIONS to Megan and thanks to all students who participated in the 2014 Academic Award Program.

Thanks also to all HATP supporters for their contributions and endorsement for this program to continue next year.

Social Security Fraud

A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office:

TEN DEFENDANTS CHARGED IN SEPARATE FEDERAL CASES ALLEGING A TOTAL OF MORE THAN $1.27 MILLION IN SOCIAL SECURITY FRAUD

CHICAGO ― Ten Chicago and area defendants were charged in separate federal criminal cases with stealing a total of more than $1.27 million from the federal government by fraudulently obtaining Social Security benefits.

Six of the defendants allegedly engaged in the fraud by using false identities. These individuals either applied for Social Security benefits under multiple names or worked under one name and applied for benefits using another name, according to the charges.

Other defendants allegedly continued to receive benefits from the account of a beneficiary who they knew was deceased and no longer entitled to receive payments.

The cases were announced today by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and William Cotter, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General.

In the false identity cases, the charges allege that those six defendants obtained Social Security benefits by claiming they were disabled or otherwise unable to maintain employment while simultaneously working and earning wages using a different identity.

SSA administers the payment of benefits from the United States to qualified individuals under various programs, including the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) program, the disability insurance program, and the supplemental security income program (SSI). The OASI program provides monthly cash benefits to retired individuals and to the surviving family members of individuals who had worked and were insured under the Social Security Act based on contributions from earnings. The SSI program provides monthly cash benefits to aged, disabled, and blind individuals who have assets and income levels that fall below certain levels.

The criminal cases were filed this month in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

Eight defendants were indicted by a federal grand jury and two were charged in criminal informations, each on one felony count of theft of government funds.

Seven defendants pleaded not guilty at their arraignments in U.S. District Court and the remaining three are scheduled to be arraigned this week.

Zachary Fardon

Zachary Fardon

“Stealing from the Social Security trust fund hurts the millions of hardworking Americans who contribute to the Social Security system,” Mr. Fardon said. “We will vigorously pursue those who abuse the system, so that we can protect those who legitimately need it.”

Each defendant faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

If convicted, restitution is mandatory and the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines. The public is reminded that indictments and informations contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The defendant and the total fraud amount alleged in each case follow:

DAVID BAILOG, also known as “David Conti” and “David Bailey,” 45, of Chicago
Loss amount: $43,422
(Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Parente)

SHARIA BRYANT, a/k/a “Sharia Bailey,” 64, of Chicago
Loss amount: $69,241
(Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Thomas)

IMOGENE DAVIS, a/k/a “Imogene Neely,” 63, of Chicago
Loss amount: $91,566
(AUSA Timothy Storino)

RONNIE DAVIS, a/k/a “Ronnie Wofford,” 67, of Chicago
Loss amount: $101,872
(AUSA Derek Owens)

SHERRI MARSHALL, a/k/a “Sherri Williams,” 49, of Chicago
Loss amount: $43,189
(AUSA Kelly Greening)

PATRICIA McQUEEN, 58, of Chicago
Loss amount: $203,505
(SAUSA Thomas)

BETSY MINOR, 63, of Oak Lawn
Loss amount: $369,188
(SAUSA Thomas)

SIMONIA PATTERSON, 39, of Chicago
Loss amount: $130,929
(SAUSA Thomas)

LEIN SCOTT, a/k/a “Barry Scott,” 64, of Chicago
Loss amount: $126,919
(AUSA Ryan Fayhee)

SHIRLEY SIMMONS, 50, of Chicago
Loss amount: $95,247
(SAUSA Thomas)

Meeting Tonight to Ratify CL Grade School Teachers’ Contract

A summary of the Crystal Lake Grade School District 47 contract that will be considered by the school board tonight at 7 at Canterbury School popped into my inbox this morning.

AGREEMENT BETWEEN

SCHOOL DISTRICT 47 BOARD OF EDUCATION

AND THE

CRYSTAL LAKE ELEMENTARY TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION

RATIFICATION DOCUMENT

April 14, 2014

  1. Duration

(ARTICLE V)

Three (3) years 2013-2014 2014-2015 2015-2016
  1. Wages

(ARTICLE XXI)

2013-2014: 1.7% (retro to July 1, 2013)2014-2015: 2.3 %2015-2016: 2.4 %
  1. Retro Pay
  • Pay date: Friday, May 23rd (normal payroll will include new rates for both salary and extra duty)
  • Separate check/voucher (net of applicable taxes) on May 23rd that includes:

* Salary retro pay codes (7/1/13 – 5/9/14)

* Extra duty retro pay codes (7/1/13 – 5/9/14)

  • Calculation support will be included to help explain
  1. Sick Days

(ARTICLE IX)

  • Language allowing for the care of individuals who stand “in a significant relationship with the teacher” was removed to conform with the definition of ‘immediate family’ contained in the Illinois School Code (105 ILCS 5/24-6): parents, spouse, brothers, sisters, children, grandparents, grandchildren, parents-in-law, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law and legal guardians.
  • Language was inserted clarifying that teachers are guaranteed twelve (12) days of sick leave each year at the beginning of their 15th year of continual service to the District.
  • Clarifies that for those teachers hired after June 1, 2014, sick days are not considered earnings for retirement service credit per the Illinois Pension Code (40 ILCS 5/7-114).
  1. Sick Leave Bank

(ARTICLE IX)

  • Language requiring 120 consecutive days was removed.
  • 120 sick leave bank days per school year are still allowed, to be taken in 5-day increments, with exceptions allowed in the discretion of the Sick Leave Bank Committee on a case by case basis. The 5-day requirement is meant to provide consistency for students and for the well-being of the teacher.
  1. Personal Leave

(ARTICLE IX)

  • Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, each full-time teacher will be credited with three (3) days of personal leave (an increase from 2 days) each school year.
  • Two weeks (instead of 3 days) advanced noticed is preferred.
  1. Bereavement Leave

(ARTICLE IX)

  • For purposes of bereavement leave only, the definition of ‘immediate family’ includes individuals who stand in a significant relationship with the employee, in addition to immediate family (defined at 105 ILCS 5/24-6 of the Illinois School Code): parents, spouse, brothers, sisters, children, grandparents, grandchildren, parents-in-law, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law and legal guardians.
  1. Retirement

(ARTICLE X)

  • Insurance benefits terminate when the teacher becomes Medicare eligible (instead of age 65).
  1. Insurance

(ARTICLE XI)

  • Insurance benefits are optional, no longer required.
  • New Insurance Committee responsibilities have been included.
  • For 2014, the Board will continue to provide each participating full-time teacher up to $624.00 benefit dollars per month for District-sponsored employee group health coverage. The Board will pay the first three percent (3%) of any increase from the previous year for the duration of the Agreement.
  • If the annual premium increase is greater than 3% but less than 6%, teachers are responsible for any increase greater than 3%. For example, if the annual premium increase is 5%, the Board’s increase will be 3% and the teacher’s increase will be 2%. However, cost savings secured through insurance plan modifications will be shared equally by the Board and the teachers.
  • If the annual premium increase exceeds 6%, the Board’s increase will be 3% and the teacher’s increase will be the annual premium increase minus the 3% Board increase. However, cost saving secured through insurance plan modifications will be first applied to the portion of the annual premium increase that exceeds 6%. Any additional cost savings secured through modifications to the plan will be shared equally by the Board and the teachers. For example, if the annual premium increase is 8%, the Board’s increase will be 3% and the teacher’s increase will be 5%. However, if cost savings secured through insurance plan modifications results in a 4% reduction in the annual premium, the Board’s increase will be 2% and the teacher’s increase will be 2%. The first 2% of the reduction will be applied to the overall increase and the remaining 2% reduction will be shared between the Board and the teachers.
  1. Professional Development — Incentives and Procedures

(ARTICLE XII)

  • Teacher must obtain a grade of ‘B’ or better (instead of a ‘C’ or better) to receive horizontal movement on the salary schedule.
  • District 47 ERO course work can be applied for horizontal movement on the salary schedule. For ERO course work, teachers must choose to receive either horizontal movement or partial reimbursement (not both).
  1. Supervisory Extra Duty

(ARTICLE XIII)

  • Previously $17.00/hour
  • 2013-2014: $17.34 (2%)
  • 2014-2015: $17.69 (2%)
  • 2015-2016: $18.04 (2%)
  1. Instructional Extra Duty

(ARTICLE XIV)

  • Previously $27.48/hour
  • 2013-2014: $28.03 (2%)
  • 2014-2015: $28.59 (2%)
  • 2015-2016: $29.16 (2%)
  • Elementary (K-5): 270 (instead of 250) total hours will be allocated per building.
  • Middle School (6-8): intramural sports 50 (instead of 60) hours per coach/activity.
  1. Just Cause Discipline

(ARTICLE XVI – new)

  • New Article XVI

No TEACHER shall be disciplined without just cause. Discipline includes, but is not limited to, documented warnings, reprimands, suspensions, and discharge. Written reprimands or warnings shall be defined as a separate document apart from the TEACHERS’ evaluation form. It is specifically agreed that this section shall not apply to a decision by the Board to terminate a teacher or to not renew the contract of a TEACHER. Criteria for determining just cause is located at @d47.org and the District #47 Employee Handbook.”

  1. Reduction in Force and Recall

(ARTICLE XIV)

  • All language removed; now provides that RIFs and recalls will be governed by the Illinois School Code provisions in effect at the time of the RIFs and recalls (105 ILCS 5/24-12).

A map showing where the school is located appears below, just in case you want to attend the meeting.

Canterbury Elementary School map.

Canterbury Elementary School map.

The following commentary accompanied the link to the contract information:

According to my tax bill, 74% of my property taxes pay for education.  42% of my tax bill is for district 47.

This D47  contract is arguably more conservative than that of many districts in the county and has historically done a better job than most in this area.  The “raises” given to the teachers for this 3 year contract compiled about 6.4% over 3 years, or an average of a little over 2% annually.  However, in looking at the Ratification Document on the D47 website as well as the previous contract there are a couple of items that appear to remain in the new contract which is a grave concern:

Teachers will receive retirement incentives – 6% raises in the last three years of employment (See Article X, Section C, Subsection 2).  In a nutshell, this does nothing for the quality of education.  All it does is increase teachers’ salaries in the last three years.  But that’s not all…
  • The Teachers Retirement System calculates the teachers’ pension based on theaverage of their final salary during the final 4 years of service.  Therefore this retirement incentive will drive up the pension burden that we have in Springfield.
  • The General Assembly passed a law to end these balloon retirement incentives, but that law is currently being challenged in the courts.  Why would D47 agree to provide additional dollars to teachers that is contrary to current legislation?
  • As we all know the talk in Springfield as that it’s the Democrats plan to shift full financial responsibility for TRS Pensions to the local school district.
  • Based on my calculations, if 6-7 teachers annonce their intent to retire during the contract term, the impact of the balloon raises will be approximately $1million!!!

Local school districts love to complain about unfunded mandates they receive from the state and federal governments, nut retirement incentives for teachers are an unfunded mandate from the district to the state!  That is because the funding for teachers’ pensions comes from Springfield, not the local school district.

It is often cheaper for the local district to encourage early retirement in this manner, because they can replace the higher-paid veteran teacher with a new teacher who earns substantially less. A new teacher earns about $40,000; the most veteran teachers can earn more than $80,000.  But these incentives increase teacher pensions, which is paid by the state.

So it’s cheaper for the district but more expensive for the state!  And in the end, whether it is the local district (funded by local property taxes) or the state (funded by income taxes), all the money comes from the same place – taxpayers’ pockets.

Links to the expired contract and the ‘Ratification Document’ are below…

 

Metro East Lawyers Help Bill Harrison’s Sheriff’s Bid

Jim Harrison, seeking enough signatures to get on the ballot as an Independent, held a fundraiser recently.

Although no press release nor photos were shared about its results, the following large recent contributions were reported:

These large contributions to Jim Harrison were reported to the Illinois State Board of Elections on April 16, 2014.

These large contributions to Jim Harrison were reported to the Illinois State Board of Elections on April 16, 2014.

In the previous quarter, Harrison reported having total receipts of $11,971.

He started out with $10,199.48 and spent $4,859.54, so his beginning balance on April 1st was $17,310.94.

The $5,500 from the two Downstate law firms is on top of that.

Jim Harrison and supporters were collecting signatures at the Crystal Lake Expo.

Jim Harrison and supporters were collecting signatures at the Crystal Lake Expo.

Contributions made during the first quarter of the year follow:

  • $5,000 – David Luck, Entrepreneur, Retired, Woodstock
  • $1,000 – Adams Auto Body, McHenry
  • $1,000 – John Klasen, Deputy Sheriff, Retired
  • $1,000 – Timber Works, Inc., Woodstock
  • $500 – Brown and Company LLP, Woodstock
  • $500 – Kathleen Phillips, Woodstock
  • $300 – Robert Kohn, McHenry
  • $200 – Gary Blair, McHenry
  • $151 – Aero Lock Service, Woodstock

Those who names are identified (having given over $150) contributed $10,451. In addition there were $1,520 contributed in amounts less than that.

Harrison seeks to face off against Republican nominee Bill Prim.

Paul Schrimpf, GOP Candidate for Attorney General Coming to Crystal Lake

Three new precinct committeemen will be hosting Paul Schrimpf who is running for Illinois Attorney General.  Eric Dowd (Nunda 24), Craig Asbach (Nunda 22), and Matt Meyer (Richmond 2) are giving McHenry County an opportunity to meet the Republican nominee.  An email from newly-elected Republican Precinct Committeeman Christina M. Myers urges folks to come meet the Republican candidate for Illinois Attorney General:

Come out and join PAUL SCHIMPF at the Cottage on April 23rd! THIS IS A FREE EVENT and a chance to meet the man who wants to be your Illinois Attorney General.

GOP Attorney General candidate will be in Crystal Lake Monday, April 28th.

GOP Attorney General candidate will be in Crystal Lake Monday, April 23rd.

EVERYONE IS WELCOME so please invite your friends and neighbors too! Pizza is being provided by Paul and there is an cash bar. This will be a great opportunity to meet Paul and fellow committeemen from around McHenry County. Details as follows:

WHO: EVERYONE – friends, neighbors, committeemen, and other elected officials

WHAT: Meet and Greet with PAUL SCHIMPF, Republican for Illinois Attorney General

Where: The Cottage
6 East Crystal Lake Ave
Crystal Lake, IL

When: April 23, 2014 – 7PM until?

We hope to see you there!

Population Dropping, But CFI Based on Increase

Crain’s Chicago Business is reporting the Census Bureau says that each of the six Chicagoland counties lost population between 2010 and 2013.

The McHenry County Board’s Continuous Flow Intersection at the corner of Algonquin and Randall Roads is based on the assumption that population is growing.

Population figures being used are outdated ones from CMAP, short for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.  The McHenry County Board was told new figures were not due to be adopted until October.

Yet, an April 7th publication by CMAP shows “the six Illinois suburban counties increased in population by just 20,000 collectively.”

From the graph below, McHenry County does not seem to be one of those growing.

The resolution of the graph is not good, but it appears that McHenry County lost population over the last three years.

The resolution of the graph is not good, but it appears that McHenry County lost population over the last three years.

20,000 is not much, compared to the 500,000 population increase over the first decade of this century.

Seemingly contradicting Crain’s data is that published by CMAP on April 7th.

Part reads,

The lackluster growth of the Chicago region is of great concern to MPC and to the metropolitan area’s economic vitality.

The population growth trends of the past three years suggest that each of the seven counties on the Illinois side of the Chicago metropolitan area are growing far more slowly than predicted by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) in 2010.

Population projections have been drastically reduced by the planning agency that has significant influence on the distribution of Federal highway dollars.

Population projections have been drastically reduced by the planning agency that has significant influence on the distribution of Federal highway dollars.

If the region’s counties continue to grow at levels similar to those of the most recent data, the seven-county population in 2040 will be just 9.2 million, up from 8.5 million.

CMAP projected a population of 11 million, a 1.8-million-person difference.

It should be noted that CMAP is in the process of updating its forecast and will have new estimates later in 2014. [Emphasis added.]

Meanwhile the McHenry County Department of Transportation and the McHenry County Board continues to use the faulty 2040 CMAP projections to justify the Continuous Flow Intersection at the busiest intersection in McHenry County–Algonquin and Randall Roads.

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I guess Yogi Berra was right when he said, “It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future!”

A request was made by a commenter for contact information for the County Board members.  That has been added in the comment section.