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.

= = = = =
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.


D47 Teacher Contract Approved; Objection to Retirement Incentive — 7 Comments

  1. I have always found Jeff Mason to be an honorable man with his goal to truly be concentrated on doing the best for the kids.

    If anything, I would hope that as his kids advance to high school that he would have the support and gumption to kick Ted Wagner and Company out of power in D-155.

  2. If you have a problem with something or find it “hard to swallow”, VOTE NO!!

    Actions speak louder than words.

  3. I agree with Chris, if you object, vote no.

    Stand up and be counted.

    Symbolic objection just to vote yes is counterproductive and akin to crying wolf.

  4. Just for clarification purposes.

    Jeff Mason is on the Crystal Lake Elementary District 47 Board.

    Ted Wagner is on the Crystal Lake High School District 155 Board.

    Teacher unions and administrators find it pretty easy to manipulate school board members.

    Regarding the District 47 contract.

    It has a lot of problems.

    For example.

    The teacher contract approved last night kept in place the 6% end of career salary increase for each of the teachers last three years?

    And kept in place the alternative to the 6%, which is an end of career lump sum payout to those taking ERO?

    That ERO lump sum payout in essence helps fund the teachers ERO contribution.

    A teacher ERO lump sum payout is ridiculous because the district ERO contribution is already 2x the teacher ERO contribution.

    ERO = Early Retirement Option.

    Teachers whom want to retire prior to full retirement often qualify for ERO.

    The 6% is being taken out of teacher collective bargaining agreements all over the state.

    It’s an outrageous abuse of Illinois taxpayer money.

    Think about it.

    Who gets an automatic annual 6% salary increase in each of their last 3 years of employment,
    for simply agreeing to retire?

    6% increase for year 1.

    Another 6% increase for year 2.

    Yet another 6% increase for year 3.

    The only criteria is the teacher must qualify for full retirement and remain employed for the three years.

    District 47 has a separate program for teachers whom do not qualify for full retirement, the ERO lump sum payout, as mentioned above.
    Does the board realize there is a bill right now in the Democratic super majority Illinois \

    General Assembly, and there have been and are various plans to shift some of the State of Illinois teacher pension contribution, from state taxpayers (via income tax and other revenue), to local property taxpayers.

    For example, there is currently a bill to change how schools are funded and that bill includes a shift of some of the annual state contribution to TRS (currently largely funded through state
    income taxes), to local property taxpayers.

    The 6% increases only adds ammunition to the Chicago Democrat argument for at least a partial teacher pension contribution shift from state taxes to local property taxes.

    Crystal Lake District 47 is throwing fuel on the fire for the tax shift debate.

    Very poor timing.

    Not sure if the 325 page pension reform bill which the Illinois General Assembly had 1 day to consider, Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), signed into Public Act 98-599 (PA 98-599) by Pat Quinn on December 5, 2013, does anything to reign in the 6% salary increases, other than to put a cap on creditable (pensionable) earnings; and PA 98-599 is being challenged in the courts anyways.
    Why 6%?

    Public Act 94-0004 states that if the end of career salary increase exceeds 6%, the school district must contribute an extra amount to the TRS pension fund to compensate for the pension spiking.

    But end of career salary hikes 6% or less, well, since TRS is a defined benefit pension plan, and member contributions are capped, so the State of Illinois gets to cover the shortfall.

    Chicago Democrats have a big problem with the 6% salary increases that increase the State of Illinois pension contribution because Chicago taxpayers fund the TRS pension through their state income taxes, yet Chicago school teachers do not contribute to TRS.

    Chicago school teachers have different pension plan.

    Where does the State of Illinois get the money to cover the State of Illinois Contribution to TRS?

    Income taxes are the primary revenue source for the State of Illinois.

    That’s just a few points about the collective bargaining agreement (cba) signed yesterday.

    It’s really sad.

    Those 6% salary increases really should go to helping kids learn, not padding retiring teachers pensions.

    It’s a despicable use of taxpayer money which almost surely will come back to haunt local taxpayers at some point in the future.

    But here is one of the many reasons why public sector unions get such generous benefits.

    A few cents or dollars added onto a property tax bill or income tax equals hundreds of dollars added onto a teacher salary or pension.

    There is little incentive for the average Joe to fight for a few dollars or cents.

    There is a much larger incentive for a teacher to fight for hundreds or thousands of dollars in salary and pensions.

    It really comes down to smart moral people deciding the best use of taxpayer dollars, and those people are few and far between in Illinois politics.

    District 47 thinks it’s a better use of taxpayer money to give a retiring teacher a 6% increase than spend the money on a student struggling in reading.

    That teacher will likely be getting a full retirement pension of $60K or greater.

    That full retirement teacher will recoup their lifetime pension contributions in 1 – 3 years, likely closer to 1 year.

    Full retirement is after 35 years of service, which often equates to 33 years worked.

    But full retirement is not good enough, teachers need more, teachers need that extra 6% per year for the last 3 years of their career.

    This is what you get with a monopoly school district with a monopoly labor union.

    No competition = very generous salaries and benefits.

  5. Probably need a bit more explanation about the big picture as to some of the ways a collective bargaining agreement can impact taxpayers.

    There is the concept of overlapping debt.

    That is typically seen when a local taxing district issues bonds.

    The overlapping debt of other local taxing districts is listed in the Official Statement (OS), which can be viewed online at the Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA) Municipal

    Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) website.

    So for instance if Crystal Lake District 47 issues bonds, the debt of Crystal Lake Park District, the Village of Crystal Lake, McHenry County, McHenry County College, McHenry County Conservation District, etc. will be listed in the OS.

    However there will be no mention of the State of Illinois or the Federal Government.

    Thus if a lot of people take a little money it can add up to a lot of money out of your wallet.

    The money is extracted from you in all sorts of ways: Federal Income Taxes, State Income Taxes, Sales Taxes, Property Taxes, Fees, etc.

    There is an opportunity cost for money.

    If money is spent on one item, it cannot be spent on another item.

    So what seems as just 6% end of career salary increase which doesn’t have a huge impact on the Crystal Lake Elementary School District budget, well that money could be spent elsewhere.

    And there is a saturation point at which some people will say, too much taxes and fees, I’m moving out of state, I’m not moving in state, I’m moving my business out of state, I’m not opening a business in state, I’m not expanding my business in state, etc.

    It’s a constant balancing act.

    This is not exactly a booming economy.

    It’s really hard to justify spending taxpayer money on 6% end of career salary increases.

    But it didn’t seem to hard for the school board to justify.

    Here’s a few exercises to gain a better understanding on taxes.

    Tape your property tax bill to your refrigerator.

    Create a spreadsheet or list on a piece of paper every tax and fee that you spend.

    A difficult one to track is gasoline taxes.

    Illinois gasoline taxes are numerous and not itemized on your gasoline receipt.

    Not surprisingly Illinois and Chicago in particular has amongst the highest gasoline taxes in
    the nation.

  6. What percentage rate of the value of your home do you pay for property tax? (Divide your annual property tax by your home value).

    Compare that percentage figure to other homes in other States (Info on other homes’ estimated and assessed values, and 2012 property taxes, available on Zillow.com).

    Also look up the U.S. national average of ‘Property Tax as a percentage of home value’ (available at census.gov).

    The national average is a fraction of McHenry County tax percentage rates.

    Look at charts of the appreciation of home values nationwide versus the decline in property values in McHenry County, relative to the increase in property taxes.

    As your taxes go up and the cost of owning a home here relative to other places increases, your home value decreases.

    Can you afford to live here when at some point, if taxes get too high, you may be forced to sell…and will not be able to afford a home elsewhere (where reasonable taxes have led to rising home prices) after all your home equity has been crammed down by a tax-induced- death spiral?

    Look up the total debt load of McHenry County: schools, government facilities, public buildings, conservation district land debt, as a percentage of total assessed value of county property.

    Look up interest rate paid on this debt, and the chart of falling debt ratings (which mean higher interest must be paid on debt).

    Do you see any way out of this debt burden for homeowners who are the guarantors?

    Look up ‘cost per child’ in local schools.

    Add a huge amount to the advertised ‘cost per child’, because the advertised figure does not include employee benefit obligations or building debt.

    Can this county ever afford to approve a single new dwelling, when the annual costs of any new student will exceed the presumed property tax of any new homeowner?

    So, ask yourself, by what logic could we ever ‘grow our way out’ of this hole?

    What can we do to survive this?

  7. The NEA, IEA, and the District 47 Teachers Union has way to much power and money.

    They put the Politicians in office!

    How do you think Nygren was elected, Marge worked for District 47.

    How do you fix it . . . some Union Busters.

    But be real careful, they control your children and families with taxes.

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