Some “Over-The-Transom” Info About District 64’s Under-The-Radar Activities


Last week we published another post about the Culture of Secrecy of the Board of Education over at Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 (“Secret Pay Raises At School District 64?” 06.30.11).  Since then, one of our readers – perturbed by the clandestine and fiscally-questionable way the D-64 Board and Administration conduct themselves – has brought some additional facts to our attention that deserve public airing.

The current teachers union contract with D-64, signed by Board president John Heyde and secretary Eric Uhlig on September 8, 2009, contains a couple of interesting benefits for the teachers that we don’t recall anybody on the Board (or anybody in the press, for that matter) publicizing during the negotiation and adoption of that contract. 

The first one, at Article VII, Section O, Paragraph 2(b), provides for the ratcheting-up of a teacher’s compensation by 6% annually during the last two years before retirement:

b.   Provide a salary increase for up to two (2) years prior to retirement in the next to last year of employment and the last year of employment …that is six percent (6%) above the teacher’s creditable earnings in the prior school year.  

That’s right, sports fans, our D-64 Board “negotiated” a guaranteed 12% home-stretch pay increase for imminent retiree teachers – the better to goose up those already-generous underfunded but guaranteed public pensions they’ll be drawing for 20+ and even 30+ years, thanks to retirement ages as early as 55 with the requisite service.  And with cost-of-living increases, of course!

And if that isn’t a nifty enough bon voyage bauble, get a load of what the contract provides at Paragraph 2(c) of that same Article and Section:

c.   Provide a service recognition payment as a post-retirement lump sum payment in the amount of $1,000 per year of service, not to exceed 25 years (i.e., $25,000) for any teacher who retires from the District [during the term of this Contract].

If we read that language correctly, teachers retiring from D-64 get a goodie bag of up to $25,000 when they walk out the door – $1,000 for each year of service.  Beats the heck out of a gold watch…even a Rolex…doesn’t it?

Crazier yet, we can find nothing in the contract that limits D-64’s obligation (meaning the obligation of us taxpayers) for these windfall payments only to those “service” years spent actually teaching in D-64 schools – a limitation that could have been locked down definitively by the simple inclusion of the words “to the District” after “per year of service” if our elected representatives on the Board (including the Harvard-educated, University of Chicago-trained attorney who serves as Board president) wanted to do so.

That the D-64 Board could unanimously (Heyde, Uhlig and their fellow then-Board members Sharon Lawson, Genie Taddeo, Pat Fioretto, Ted Smart and Russ Gentile) adopt such a contract is troubling, to say the least.  That it seems to have been done with little-to-no public debate and no invitation of citizen input by those Board members is appalling.

We also don’t recall any public debate over the compensation and stipend schedules contained in that contract: we heard about “2.5% increases” only after the deal was cut and the respective parties were crowing about how “fair” the deal was – something we criticized in our post “Concealing The Details Of A ‘Fair’ Contract Raises Questions” (09.14.09).  At the time, we thought that 2.5% per year looked pretty darn good…for the teachers.  In retrospect, it looks wonderful…for the teachers.  

And that’s why we can’t help but wonder, albeit perversely, just how many Park Ridge parents would be positively delighted if their own recent college graduates were making “minimum compensation” of $42,720 and health insurance for just a “Bachelor’s Degree and no experience”…with scheduled annual non-performance based raises…for approximately 8 months of actual work, with summers off…in a job that can’t be outsourced to Guadalajara or Bangalore…and from which one effectively can’t be fired once tenure is obtained after a few years on the job?

Again we are reminded of Mark Twain’s famous quote: “God made the Idiot for practice, and then He made the school board.”

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10 comments so far

This is quite frightening.

But that is an excellent Twain quote!

After reading this, I’m not sure if I laughed or cried harder! So well said. No other private sector job has the guarantees that the public sector teaching job has once you pass tenure. No fear of outsourcing, automatic raises, full benefits and the opportunity to have summers off or have an additional summer salary.

It is very true that No other private sector job has the guarantees that the public sector teaching job has once you pass tenure. No fear of outsourcing, automatic raises, full benefits and the opportunity to have summers off or have an additional summer salary. So if those private sector job holders had half a brain between them they would organize into a union, and collectively bargain, and try to get some of those good job protections and salary benefits union members have. I guess those private sector job holders are too dumb or too lazy to organize and they would rather whine and complain and try to help take those benefits away from job holders who have them.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Unfortunately for private-sector employees, they do not get to “negotiate” with moronic and/or corrupt politicians, so it doesn’t really matter whether they are unionized or not because they can’t get the ridiculous windfall wages and benefits public-sector employees have come to expect from politicians throwing around other people’s (a/k/a our) money. Which explains why private-sector union membership has declined while public-sector union membership continues to increase.

This is the kind of investigative journalism either ignored or avoided by traditional news sources. Thank you, PW. Is this contract available anywhere online for public review? If not, is it because they say they’re not allowed to post it, or because they failed to post it?

Where I’m going with this: We should all show up at their next meeting and ask for an explanation. We’ll have to because it’s darn sure they won’t fill these comment forums with any responses or explanations.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks, but the real credit goes to the reader who figuratively tossed these contract provisions over our transom on (ironically) July 4th to get our attention. The contract can be found on the D-64 website at:

A good-sized turnout of citizens demanding answers and explanations may very well be the only way this D-64 Board (with the notable exception of newbie Anthony Borrelli) starts getting a clue that people aren’t willing to mindlessly accept business-as-usual from D-64 any longer. And one way to improve turnout is to move the D-64 Board meetings from Monday nights, where they currently conflict with City Council meetings, to Tuesday or Wednesday nights. But we’re not holding our collective breath waiting for the D-64 Board and the Administrators to take up that idea.

What’s going on with this contract is indefensible, but don’t kid yourself: private-sector unions are all but gone because Republicans made it their life’s work to impede, violate, delay, circumvent, bully, harrass and, above all, buy politicians to diminish employees’ ability to negotiate as a group with their employers, under the “trickle down” fantasy that 3rd World wages would somehow increase America’s overall affluence. Yes, it’s pitiful to see what teachers make compared to what the private sector pays; and let’s not even get started on health insurance, etc.; but the fact is real individual incomes have been flat since the early l970s; only women going to work disguised that fact by raising household incomes for awhile. And the top one percent of “earners” now owns something like 30 percent of all US assets. Eisenhower would weep; of course, he’d look like Jan Schakowsky compared to today’s Republican legislators. So when your 25-year-old BA is still living at home because you can’t rent anything on a $10/hour salary, you know where to look and whom to blame. Our race to the bottom is not caused by unions; they’re just the last holdouts.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sorry, Comrade, but anybody who claims “it’s pitiful to see what teachers make compared to what the private sector pays” left reality behind long ago.

Welcome to School Finance 101.

For eight years I’ve been trying to get your attention. For eight years I’ve been telling those who would listen that EMSD#63 and others were spending our tax dollars like drunken sailors. Of course, EMSD#63 has always been my subject district and maybe because surrounding district taxpayers had yet to feel the “heat”, they ignored their own profligate spending problems. Last year I pleaded for Park Ridge and D207 to become involved. D64 and D207 readers continued to cover their eyes. Now that your eyes are open to D64’s spending foibles, what do you intend to do about it?

Kenneth Butterly

EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome, Mr. Butterly, although we don’t remember your commenting – at least not under your own name – on this blog before. But feel free to correct us if we’re wrong. And, as a matter of policy, we diligently try to avoid writing about non-Park Ridge governmental bodies – because it’s tough enough dealing with the nonsense promulgated by our own jurisdictions. So you’re on your own with Dist. 63.

What we “intend to do about it” is what we’ve been doing: pointing out the problems, as and when we see them; and encouraging people to elect school board candidates who aren’t your typical rubber stamps for unionized teachers masquerading as administrators.

The only board meeting in July is THIS MONDAY the 11th. Agenda is here: They don’t make it easy. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m., then goes into executive session, and resumes at 7:30 with FIVE MINUTES allowed for public comments. Yes, public comments are scheduled from 7:30 until 7:35 p.m. The agenda helpfully points out that agenda items may run long or short, so if the executive session lasts less than an hour, the five minutes of public comments could run from, say, 7:02 to 7:07 p.m. You’re SOL unless you sit around for an hour while they meet privately. I wonder if they could do as the City Council does and schedule public comments right at the beginning of the meeting?

Sadly, I am travelling out of town next week and can’t make this one meeting scheduled for July.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The D-64 Board’s scheduling “public comments right at the beginning of the meeting?” Shirley you jest.

You’re excused, but you have to recruit at least two other residents to take your place. 🙂

I have always thought that interest in the school board meetings is negatively affected by the HUGE interest and attendance at city council meetings. My god it is like going up against American Idol!!

EDITOR’S NOTE: The fact that one or two dozen people at City Hall can be referred to (even in jest) as “HUGE…attendance” shows the kind of apathy that encourages mismanagement of government at the local level – which should be the most understandable and accountable level there is. But D-64 does its best to keep interest in its activities at the level of a 6:00 a.m. farm bureau report – but without the incomparable Orion Samuelson.

I love Orion: “pork bellies are up the limit, November corn is down a quarter and the government’s frozen concentrated orange juice report is due at noon.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: And he never had to do business with “Clarence Beeks.”

reply to 9:37 – sorry for my sloppy writing; I meant that the current deal is indefensible and what the teachers are making in terms of their whole deal is too generous compared to what it takes these days for the average private-sector employee to make the same money. However, I still believe we who look in envy at the decent packages the unionized teachers get should not blame them for our economic ills. We go after them because we can — it’s easier than going after the international corporations, national banks and other mega-welfare recipients like them who wrote the book on being “unaccountable.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Another swing and a miss. Those unionized public-sector employees who are now finally drawing the taxpayers’ ire got their sweetheart deals by knowingly colluding with many of our state and local politicians, just like those private-sector bogeymen you kvetch about knowingly colluded with our state and national politicians. The main difference, however, is that those corporations’ principal accountability by law is owed to their shareholders, while government employees owe their principal accountability to us taxpayers; and that those local government employees are right here in our jurisdiction, under our direct control, rather than in 50-100 jurisdictions around the country or the world that we can’t control.

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