Continued Discussion on School Consolidation

In the “Here we go again” category is consolidation of schools.

These comments by Lakewood’s Steve Willson stimulates me to re-post the analysis I did seven years ago under his reflections:

Steve Willson

I’m so tired of this “consolidate the schools” argument.

First of all, it’s a non sequitur.

Whether other units of government have flaws (a given) is irrelevant to what to do about townships.

Second, the arguments against townships have much more to do with the ministerial positions and the lack of voter oversight than with a minor difference in cost.

And third and most important, the evidence is absolute that combining school districts RAISES costs.

First of all, the theory: governmental incentives are perverse and favor increasing expenses, not lowering costs.

Second, the contracts: if two districts merge, which pay scale do you think is going to prevail, the higher one or the lower one.

And finally, I have performed a statistical analysis of ALL the school districts in Illinois over many different fiscal years, and the results are always identical:

(a) there is NO difference in outcomes based on expenditures per pupil;

(b) there is NO difference in outcomes based on teacher salaries;

(c) there is NO difference in outcomes based on teacher experience.

There is only ONE statistically significant correlation:

larger districts spend more per pupil than smaller districts.

Cary Elementary School Board President Scott Coffey added the following:

Scott Coffey

As to school district consolidation, as Steve indicated, the new district would have to operate under the worst-run operating cost structure (eg. labor contracts, staffing levels, etc.) of the merging districts.

I look at something like this: and wonder how something like this happens.

My favorite is the “Painter” position with a comp package of $82,452/year.

If you’re so inclined, you can contrast that report to D-26 here:

Just as with township consolidation, I have asked, “Where’s the beef?”

Show me the money that school consolidation would bring.

Don’t just assert that consolidation of school will save money.

Provide an analysis that will show what dollars will be saved.

My analysis from 2011 show that consolidation of the grade schools with Crystal Lake High School 155 would have cost $25 million.

The last time I ran this analysis, it was after a Chicago Tribune editorial calling for school consolidation.

I think it’s time to run it again.

In its Sunday, January 17, 2015, editorial the Chicago Tribune called for school consolidation.

In its Sunday, January 17, 2015, editorial the Chicago Tribune called for school consolidation.

With the Chicago Tribune pumping for school consolidation in its editorial on education, I thought it was time to re-run the article I wrote almost four years ago when Governor Pat Quinn advanced the idea.

The numbers will have changed since I wrote it, but the conclusion will be the same.

When high schools are consolidated with grade schools, salaries of elementary school teachers will be increased to equal those of high school teachers.

If for no other reason, that will occur because there are more grade school teachers than high school teachers.

They will control the teachers union.

The only way to save more money on the fewer administrators required in a consolidated (unit) district would be to keep salaries constant.

The chances of that are slim and none.

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.


Continued Discussion on School Consolidation — 2 Comments

  1. Woodstock 4% property tax rate/ Woodstock TIF 1 and 2 victims:

    There are self-defense mechanisms which we have now been given moral permission to employ.

    Contact me if interested.

    Susan H.

  2. Were are all the pro consolidation dudes calling Cal, Steve, and Scott idiots?

    The proof is in the facts, something Bob Anderson doesn’t understand.

    Where’s the Beef, to quote a old dude.

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