School Consolidation Would Cost Taxpayers Plenty

Governor Pat Quinn thinks that consolidating schools will save big money because fewer administrators would be required.

The average Crystal Lake High School District 155 teacher salary is $91,573.

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.

$68,489 is the average teacher salary in the Cary Grade School District, the one is such financial trouble recently.

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.

In Fox River Grove the average grade school teacher makes $60,507.

Pretty much peanuts, in other words.

In the Prairie Grove Elementary School District underlying Crystal Lake High School District the average salary is $59,840.

The Northwest Herald has bought into the argument, also incorrectly assume that consolidating hundreds of school districts in Illinois will save big money.

The largest of the District 155 feeder schools, Crystal Lake District 47, pays its teachers $57,788 on the average, according to the 2010 School Report Card.

“… 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.

The entrance to Disney World’s Fantasy Land looks so enticing, but what’s beyond looks like a carnival to me.

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.


School Consolidation Would Cost Taxpayers Plenty — 6 Comments

  1. Sandlar: You mean a beginning kindergarten teacher should be paid as much as an administrator?

    Or do you mean a drivers ed teacher should be paid as much as an administrator who should be paid as much as elementary P.E. teacher?

    Cal was kind to not point out how many teachers in crystal lake get paid more than $90,000 a year.

  2. Last I looked; there were very few teachers making over 90k in D47. And the ones that are where there when I was in grade school. So how is Cal kind for not pointing out these 4 or 5 teachers?

  3. School District Consolidation

    This blog sheds some more light on the reasons for school district consolidation.

    The original reason I heard was because the more gifted children in rural communities did not have enough academically challenging classes.

    Now I learn consolidation would allow the IEA to increase the pay of many teachers, because the merged districts would be converted to a common base salary schedule, and since teachers never take a pay cut, the lower of the two base salary schedules would be replaced with the higher base salary schedule.

    Did Governor Quinn take that into account when calculating the supposed “savings” that consolidation would bring?

    Not surprisingly, Ken Swanson the President of the IEA has stated he supports school district consolidation.

    Consolidation benefits teachers in another way.

    It makes the threat of a strike a more powerful negotiating tool for the union. Consolidation creates larger school districts.

    The larger the school district, the more problematic a strike, because more kids would be out of school, more parents schedules would be interrupted, etc.

    Thus, strikes would be less likely in a larger district than smaller district, is my guess.

    The threat to strike is a powerful bargaining tool used by the IEA.

    For example, in Chicago (the union is not IEA but CTU which is affiliated with IFT), a strike means 400,000 children are out of school.

    There is no ultimate financial drawback for a teacher to go on strike, as the strike days are ultimately made up at the end of a school year. It’s not like the teacher ultimately earns less money due to a strike.

    Speaking of school districts, I have a complaint about the pay freeze that was announced by my school district for this 2010-11 school year. Turns out it was not a complete pay freeze. There were exemptions.

    Exemption #1. Reading the press release closely, exempted was the 6% end of career salary increase. 6% doesn’t sound so large. Examining the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) website, end of career salary increases in my district last year amounted to over $630,000. $630,000 sounds a whole lot more than 6%.

    Exemption #2. Not in the press release, but in the collective bargaining agreement, is the following on page 38, section 11.10 Advanced Coursework, part D. “All employees will be restricted to a maximum of 6 hours per semester, and up to 18 hours per summer not to exceed 18 hours per year for salary movement. Employees will only be allowed 1 lane movement per school year. Hours taken by a teacher in excess of those required for horizontal lane movement within a school year, may be applied to the next school year.”

    Say what?

    Translation, lane movement was not frozen. Lane movement is pay received for earning college credits and degrees. This freeze exemption was not reported by the District or newspapers. The public had to

    a)deduce by the language in the the press release that lane movement was not frozen, which of course requires prior knowledge as to what a lane movement is in the first place, or

    b)compare this collective bargaining agreement to the prior years – except the prior years collective bargaining agreement is taken off the website once the new one is placed on the web site.

    Not to be overlooked, prior to this collective bargaining agreement, there was no limitation on the maximum # of hours per semester; now it’s limited to 6. And previously, the courses were not required to be transferable to a masters degree program (thus it could be an array of Mickey Mouse classes). Not that all such classes are Mickey Mouse, but let’s be realistic.

    Yet the District had to cut B team middle school sports, some teaching aides, some teachers, and more, due to “lack of funding.”

    What was frozen? Well, teachers in this district previously were allowed TWO lane movements per year.

    The step increase (years of service) was frozen for 2010-11 but not 2011-12.

    The base salary schedule was frozen for 2010-11, but receives a 1% increase for 2011-12.

    I am in Wheaton Warrenville Consolidated Unit School District 200. CUSD 200.

    So this is an example of what happens in a consolidated district. The AVERAGE salary in our District is $75,000 – $80,000 per year.

    Let’s talk about that 6% increase which occurs the last four years of the teachers career. I have mention this before.

    This is called pension spiking, because it causes an underfunded pension.

    Guess what is the single largest shortfall in the State of IL budget?

    Underfunded TRS teacher/administrative pensions.

    In June 2005, Senate Bill 27 (Public Act 94-0004) was passed.

    This required districts to pay the actuarial cost of pension increases resulting from salary increases above 6 percent.

    Before June 2005, the threshold was 20%.

    So while 6% is more financially prudent than 20% annual increase, it still causes an underfunded pension.

    Public Act 94-0004 should be modified.

    Instead of money going to educate children, money is going fund, underfunded pensions, caused by districts’ 6% pension spiking pay hikes last 4 years of teachers’/administrators’ careers.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on and on.

    When Asst Superintendents in our district retire, the District pays their healthcare benefits for 5 years, even though their pensions are often over $100,000.

    Yet we don’t have money for the above cuts I mentioned.

    The system is completely dysfunctional and unaffordable and it’s a travesty. The system does not need more tax dollars.

    The system needs to re-allocate the way tax dollars are being spent.

    The politicians know what changes need to be made to benefit the public.

    They don’t do so because the teachers and teachers unions would not support their re-election.

    What can the public do?

    Educate your friends.

    Go to school board meetings.

    Look at the Collective Bargaining Agreement and Administrative Compensation Report on your Districts website (required to be there by law).

    Contact your state legislators.

  4. Forget about consolidation.

    GET UNIONS OUT, then see what the picture looks like.

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