Teacher Salary Spikes

The Chicago Tribune’s Education superb Reporter Diane Rado has examined the cost to local taxpayers of school boards that increased teachers’ salaries more than allowed by law just before they retired.  Her main article can be found here.

Reported in McHenry County was that every school district in McHenry County raised teacher salaries so much (6 percent salary increases) in their final years that they had to pay a penalty to the Teachers Retirement Fund.

The biggest penalty–$531,836.67–was paid by District 300, formerly based in Carpentersville, now in Algonquin.

The details are below:

Alden-Hebron Unit District 19

Barrington Unit District 220

Cary Grade School District 26

Crystal Lake High School District 155

Algonquin Unit District 300

Crystal Lake Grade School District 47

Fox River Grove Grade School District 47

Wonder Lake Harrison Grade School District 36

Harvard Unit School District 50

Huntley Unit District 158

Marengo High School District 154

Marengo Grade School District 165

McHenry Grade School District 15

McHenry High School District 156

Richmond Nippersink Grade School District 2

Prairie Grove Grade School District 46

Richmond-Burton High School District 157

Riley Grade School District 18

Wauconda Unit School District 118

Woodstock Unit District 200


Teacher Salary Spikes — 17 Comments

  1. This is the direct result of electing “teacher union friendly” people to school boards.

  2. 1. Where are these fines reported in CAFR ? (What category of expense)?

    2. Were salary spikes granted by board members to every single retiring employee, or were spikes arbitrarily and capriciously awarded?

    3. Were unbalanced budgets passed which knowingly failed to include fines accruing for salary spikes?
    Were budgets passed in which fines were not properly characterized expenses?

  3. Totally agree.

    This happens when we have former teachers elected to school boards.

    When did stealing from the Tax payer become o.k.

    We are out of control in Illinois.

  4. The penalties under Obamacare for Cadillac health plans are excise taxes which will be paid by us taxpayers.

    These excise taxes will raise the cost we pay for teacher healthcare by extraordinary amounts in one single year, and then rise with inflation every year thereafter.

    Same sort of thing as salary pension spikes. The board seems to willfully ignore the effect on taxpayers.

    Right now there has been no official policy statement of intention to avoid these Obamacare excise taxes.

    Just as there is no official policy statement about these pension salary spike penalty payments. (Are salary spikes ‘usual and customary’? Or are they only capriciously awarded to ‘friends of the board’?)

    (btw: where in the cafr (comprehensive financial annual report) is the penalty listed? how is that expense categorized? there are strict accounting laws about such things).

    Why don’t we citizens DEMAND official policy statements about incurring penalties and taxes for VIOLATING THE LAW and how that fits into responsible and legal discharge of school board members’ duties?

  5. If D 300 teachers put as much energy into motivating and teaching students as they do rallying for their pay raises, their graduates would be in a much better place in the job market.

    Some years ago, retired D 300 Supt Norman Wetzel was one of the most highy paid Supts in the State, and for what?

  6. Are all the School Districts in McHenry County participating in the federal program ‘Race to the bottom’ for the students but ‘Race to the top’ for teacher salaries and pensions?

    eg. Harvard’s D-50 is the current winner!!

  7. What shall we do about this, on a local level, with resources at hand?

  8. The way I see it ….

    When a unit of Government, police,fire
    teachers, Etc..knowingly get raises for the sake of larger pensions is fraud..

    Stealing from the public…those raises prior to retirement should be revoked…………..

    We have a married couple both Teachers retired in Harvard who make in excess of $300,000 per year and it goes up each year to cover the cost of living……………

  9. The penalty payments are for administrators and teachers whom receive a pay increase above 6%, or whom are granted excess sick leave, in any of the administrators’ / teachers’ last 4 years of employment.

    A FOIA request can be submitted to either TRS or the school district to determine the dollar amount for each teacher in each year that a penalty payment was sent by the school district to TRS for exceeding 6% end of career salary increase.

    To reiterate, Name of teacher for which a penalty was paid, the year to which the penalty payment applies (the penalty payment may be paid in a different year than the payment applies), date the penalty payment was paid to TRS, the dollar amount of the penalty payment.

    The penalty payments would probably not appear as a category in a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).

    Rather, the penalty payments would be included in various places in the CAFR under another category, such as salaries or benefits; the Financial office at the school district would provide that information.

    There are two laws that address the 6% penalty payments.

    The first was Public Act 94-0004 (PA 94-0004) signed by Governor Rod Blagojevich on June 1, 2005, which was Senate Bill 0027 (SB 0027).

    The penalty payments are for two pension funds, TRS and State University Retirement System (SURS).

    Have not seen any reporting on SURS penalty payments.

    The second law is Public Act 94-1057 (PA 94-1057) signed by Governor Rod Blagojevich on July 31, 2006.

    Here is an 8 page bulletin from TRS which further describes the practice.

    Employer Bulletin 06-03
    Public Act 94-0004 Employer Contributions for Salary Increases and Sick Leave

    To further track down salary increases above 6%, and / or excess sick days granted in the employees last 4 years of employment, look at the administrator contracts and teacher collective bargaining agreements.

    Compensation comes in many different forms, such as salaries, stipends, lane (taking more college classes) and step (working an additional year) movements on the collective bargaining agreement salary chart, so that’s how salaries can exceed 6%.

    Most school boards are not an effective oversight of public schools.

    Unless there is a taxpayer watchdog who understands the system (or at least is learning the system) there is very likely things happening which you would assume are not happening.

    School districts are public sector monopolies (monopoly on the taxpayer dollars going to the schools).

    The teacher union is furthermore a monopoly (union receives money from members irregardless if member does not want to belong to a union).

    The Superintendent and administration is typically vastly superior in knowledge to anyone on the school board in how the system works.

    Many school board members are not strong in finance, and if so are not strong in public sector finance, and if so are not strong in school district finance.

    School board members are unpaid (not saying they should be paid) volunteers, so aside from saving a bit of money on their property tax bill, there is not a monetary reason to spend a lot of time uncovering what is really happening.

    Schools are experts at projecting a good image to the public, many of them have a dedicated PR employee or at least someone whose job duties include PR.

    So it’s the same old story.

    Every taxing district needs a taxpayer watchdog, especially in Illinois, especially in the Chicago suburbs, especially in suburban Chicago school districts.

    Sometimes the school districts don’t realize there was a penalty for whatever reason until they receive the notice from the TRS pension fund that a penalty payment is due.

    The pension system and public school system is out of control.

    It’s ridiculous employees can accumulate 340 sick days and cash them out at ending salary or exchange them for years of service credit to retire early (how does an unused sick day fund a pension…it does not).

  10. Remember it’s for the children.

    If we put teachers that cared about the kids more than the money then they would smarten up the kids and we couldn’t take advantage of the droves of stupid people we create.

  11. So what will all the money suckers do when they kill the golden goose?

    Illinois is on the road to become Detroit 2.

    I recall making a point that it was common for school boards to be biased toward giving out the taxpayers’ money to the unions.

    Electing teachers, spouses of teachers, retired teachers didn’t seem to make a dent in residents’ brains.

    They all wanted to be friends with school employees as opposed to remembering that the employees worked for the residents.

    Strikes eliminated the ability to negotiate contracts.

    People who challenged the status quo were considered the enemy whenever a referendum came around.

    Yep, all those terrible people were labeled a child haters, teacher haters and old farts.

    The same people got elected and the residents hid since they wanted champagne education and sports for their children on someone else’s dime.

    Denial is a painful choice. Are you happy now?

    Is that property tax bill obscene and taking money from your children’s futures?

  12. These boards are committing illegal acts.

    They do so openly and knowingly and laugh at the taxpayer as they not only dig them into a deeper hole but also saddle them with fines for THEIR illegal actions.

    Anyone have any idea just why this sort of thing is not considered Official Misconduct?

    My understanding is that a public officer opens himself up to the charge when he or she does something which is contrary to law or their oath of office.

    Perhaps is enough of a stink is made, our state’s attorney will think outside the box and charge a couple of these idiots with Official Misconduct.

    That’s the only thing that will stop this crap.

    So long is there little or no PERSONAL liability, the various boards will simply thumb their nose at the law, do what they want and then pass the bill on to the taxpayer.

    Enough is enough!

  13. The boards are doing nothing illegal.

    If the employee pay is hiked over 6% in any of the last 4 years; or if the employee is granted excess sick leave; the district pays a penalty to TRS.

    The way the system is set up now each school district needs a watchdog, or just hope and pray the elected board members understand the system or want to hold the line on costs, which many do not.

    Most school boards are outmatched by the administration and teachers union.

    There are exceptions.

    There has not been much progress.

    Many school districts have rules about teachers and administrators submitting retirement paperwork 4 years before they retire, and that information is available via FOIA request to the school district.


    Names of teachers and administrators who submitted their retirement paperwork and plan to retire:

    – this year?

    – in one year?

    – in two years?

    – in three years?

    – four years?

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