Teachers’ Friends on School Board Make Costly Last Minute Change in Salary Hike Formula

I wrote about how a measure of inflation, a cost of living index in the form of the Consumer Price Index, has been only 1.1% for the last 12 months.

In that article Friday, I suggested tax district officials would be saying,

Oh, BLEEP!

So would have Huntley School District 158 teachers had not three school board members more friendly to the teachers than the taxpayers made a last minute change in the salary offer.

When District 158 made its “Last, Best and Final” Offer to the Huntley’s teachers union, the salary offer was for indexing the 2nd and 3rd year using the Consumer Price Index.

Specifically the increase would be the CPI, plus 0.65%.

Chief Negotiator Larry Snow had full support of the Board for this.

The Board negotiating committee was six members–

Snow, Aileen Seedorf, Board President Shawn Green, plus the two C.P.A.’s, Tony Quagliano and Kevin Gentry, and Kim Skaja, who had voted for huge increases for the teachers in past contracts.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Snow and Seedorf were the backbone of the “financially responsible” part of this Board.

Normally it would take a 4-2 vote to reverse a six board member decision.

I said, “normally.”

Because Board President Sean Green showed up for only five hours or so during the last 150 hours of contract negotiations, Green was “Absent” literally and for all practical purposes.

This made it possible for a 3-2 vote to get the CPI index removed from the Board’s final negotiating position.

It was a given that Kim Skaja would go along with most anything that favored the teachers’ union.

So when Quagliano insisted on removing the CPI and going to fixed percentages for years two and three, and sidekick Gentry agreed, the die was cast.

When the two Certified Public Accountant’s caved, Skaja’s quickly agreed and the concession was made.

Caving in will turn out to be financially costly.

How bad?

The fixed percent raises were 5.25% for most teachers.

If you are optimistic about December’s CPI number then the total for the year may be 1.1%.

That would have meant the Board’s formula would have generated 1.75% raises. But there was a floor of 2% in the language.

So, there’s basically a difference of 3 and a quarter percentage points.

Under what the “Last, Best and Final” offer, next year’s raise would have turned out to be 2%. More than what it appears the cost of living will increase, but not the 5.25% Quagliano, Gentry and Skaja inserted at the last moment.

This translates into about $1 million a year in extra concessions than what was in the “Last, Best and Final” offer.

Ouch.

In simple terms, to balance the budget next year this means a million dollars of other spending (for additional class room teachers, for example) can’t happen.

Not just for one twelve month period, but again and again as the extra million dollars becomes a baseline for extra teacher salary expense year after year.

Word is that Huntley District 158 wants to hire a Certified Public Accountant for its next a chief financial officer.

Protecting the interests of taxpayers is not automatic just because one has passed that exam. Think Arthur Anderson and Enron for an extreme example of that.

The auditor who got the District 158’s audit numbers wrong in 2007 was a C.P.A..

The previous auditor was a C.P.A. and he got the numbers wrong in previous years as well.

Quagliano’s, Gentry’s and Skaja’s cave in, in this instance, will cause an automatic financial cave in for next year’s budget and the one after that.

Making this concession didn’t even prevent a strike.

The CPI is not in formula and wasn’t in the last weekend’s proposals to the HEA and they called the strike anyway.

That tells you how little good the C.P.A.s’ concession actually did at the time.

It wasn’t used to “make a deal;” it was a giveaway.

Both Snow and Seedorf were outvoted in caucus.

The “Last Best and Final” offer made sense as a financial structure.

Maybe if Green had bothered to show up he could have made it a 3-3 vote and the original proposal would be in the contract.

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Huntley School District 158 Board members Larry Snow and Aileen Seedorf are seen top right. To the left and slightly below is School Board President Shawn Green. Below right is Kim Skaja. Below left are Kevin Gentry and Tony Quagliano. The picketers were found outside the western entrance to the Red Barn Road campus on the first day of the Huntley Education Association’s strike.


Comments

Teachers’ Friends on School Board Make Costly Last Minute Change in Salary Hike Formula — 2 Comments

  1. You are mighty cavalier with other people’s districts. The teachers’ union adamantly refused the CPI increases. If the board hadn’t “caved”, our kids would still be out of school due to the strike.

    If I didn’t know you and Snow are thick as thieves, I’d find it amazing how much insider information you have about closed negotiations.

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