Monthly Archives: August 2017

CUSD 200 – who’s in charge?

I attended the Wheaton-Warrenville board meeting tonight.

The good news is: Lacrosse players and their parents showed up to support one item in the consent agenda, which did pass:

Approval to Recognize Lacrosse as a High School Sport Under a Fully Funded Parent Agreement

It is a pity that the district could not find any money to put toward this sport.  After all, it is for the kids.

The other good news (as expected) the administrators, including superintendent Schuler, accepted a salary freeze rather than the 1% originally proposed.

The bad news, no benefit concessions from the administrators.  The district will still spend $600,000 for their pension contributions.  They still pay less for insurance benefits than teachers pay – which is less than many in the private sector pay. They still have their end of career bonus.  They claim they discussed it twice in close session and comparable districts do the same.  There has been no real discussion in open meetings.  And I can’t help but wonder if there wasn’t side lobbying.  So, who is greedy?  Who is in charge?

Jim Gambaiani made a statement as to why he would be voting NO.

  • $600,000 pension pick up
  • $850,000 benefits
  • $25,000 per employee maximum retirement bonus (does not count toward pension)

See the compensation list (note: top pay for a governor is $180,000) personel admin 2017

Facilities Plan Update-Early Learning Center

They are still planning on a new, larger facility for the district early learning center.  Many scenarios  were presented.  The ones they will continue to investigate are

  • Renovate and Expand the current Jefferson Early Learning Center, or
  • Build a new pre-school as  an addition to Monroe Middle School  with a connecting hallway. This option includes land swap with the park district.

By doing an addition, rather than a new building, they claim they can do it without a referendum.  And after 2 failed referendums, they’d rather not try again.  The price of each scenario was in the ball park of $20 million.  Jim Mathieson questioned the cost.  He said we need to bring it down to $15 or $16 million.  They are looking at spending reserves and hiring a firm to do fund raising on behalf of the district.

Yes, I agree, we need to do something to improve the Jefferson building – at least to maintain it.  But, should we spend our reserves when we cannot count on the school funding from the state?  The district just received the third out of four payment from last year.  Even once the school funding bill passes, how will it be paid when the state’s piggy-bank is empty?

 

 

CUSD 200 budget review tonight

There is a board meeting tomorrow – 8/16/2017, 7:00 PM at the School Service Center (130 West Park Ave. Wheaton, IL).

Would love to have others show up and speak out! Or simply listen and give moral support.

 

At this meeting they plan to approve the 2018 budget, then this year’s contracts for the 50 administrators whose contracts expired 6/30/2017.  It appears they will be taking no raises.  However, I have spoken out in June and July about aligning administrator benefits with the teacher benefits  and doing away with the lump sum they will get when they retire.

 

On the meeting agenda, I see the administrators who are now working on expired contracts are listed in the personnel report as having new base salary the same as last year.  OK.  But, I’ve asked for a copy of the contract to be attached so the taxpayers can see everything they are on the hook for.  Not there.  Does that mean no change?  If so, who is in charge of the school district?  Is it the board?

 

For these 50 administrators:

  • The total base salary is almost $6 million
  • The pension pick up is 9.8% of that base or almost $600,000.  Everyone else in the district pays their own pension contribution.  Administrators should as well.
  • In addition they pay only 10% of their benefit premiums.  Teachers pay 20%.  BTW: at one point the district paid 100% so this has been diminished in the past.  It can be done!

More importantly, we need to set a precedent by removing the end of career bonus (aka post-employment-compensation) from the administrator contracts this year to have leverage to remove it from the teacher contract next year.

  • End of career salary spikes should never have been granted?
  • When they were removed, there was no reason to grant a large end of career bonus in their place.
  • Nor was there any reason to increase the size of the bonus when the contract renewed.
  • None of this should have exited!

The current maximum bonus for administrators is $25,000.  If all 50 end up with this eventually, leaving this in the contract means the taxpayers are on the hook for 50 x $25,000 = $1,250,000.  That is $1.2 million – for what?

 

There are 850 teachers.

  • In the last three years, 83% of the TRS retirees had 18 years or more – In fact that group averaged 28.6 years.  35 teachers x 83% x 28.6 x $750 = $620,000 expected retirement bonuses per year.
  •  If everyone works 25 years that would be: 850 x 25 x $750 = $15,937,500 (about $16 million) spread over the years.

 

If the board insists on diminishing benefits for administrators, they have a choice: accept it, like so many in the private sector have done. or quit/retire.  Most will stay.  Yes, they will grumble.  But, they will not be surprised – We have been making public comments about their overly-generous benefits for at least a decade.  I’ve been providing data at the last few meeting.  They’ve heard it.

This had already been identified by the public in 2010 when the district had major cuts – but none was done then.  At that point they

  • removed B-sports reduced the number of teacher aids
  • increased student fees
  • and the teachers agreed to a temporary salary freeze.

They threatened to cut

  • the gifted program
  • PE for kinder garden
  • orchestra and
  • band

So far, teachers, taxpayers and parents have all made concessions, it is time for the administrators to do the same.

CUSD 200, Still Partying on Taxpayer’s Dime.

A year ago, I reminded the board that public funds are for public purposes only.  Then I went over a list of spending on the adults with no educational purpose.  I expected the board to direct the district to cut this out.  Nothing has changed.  Why wasn’t this cut rather than increasing student fees?  Why do they keep crying poor when this is going on? Who is in charge?  The school board? The superintendent? Or do we just do what everyone else is doing?

My comments from July 2016 when I told the board about the amount of money spent on celebrations and gift for the staff are available on  youtu.be/BwFikoSGLiw?t=1m46s  (2 minute mark)

A friend put in a similar FOIA this year – Nothing has changed!  The entire file is 71 pages, I’ve included a sample below:

celevrate 2017 p7_10

celebrate2017 p13_16

There is a board meeting tomorrow – 8/16/2017, 7:00 PM at the School Service Center (130 West Park Ave. Wheaton, IL).

At this meeting they plan to approve the 2018 budget, then this year’s contracts for the 50 administrators whose contracts expired 6/30/2017.  It appears they will be taking no raises.  However, I have spoken out in June and July about aligning their benefits with the teacher benefits   and doing away with the lump sum they will get when they retire. (I’ll post more on this tonight)

Would love to have others show up and speak out!