Taxpayers Just Dairy Cattle To D-64 Board, Administration (Updated)


Monday night in the Franklin School gymnasium, two Park Ridge-Niles Elementary School District members stood up for the taxpayers of this District. 

Only two.  Of the seven total Board members charged with looking out for the interests of the entire community – not just the students, not just their parents, not just the teachers, but the entire community – only two were willing to stand up for the people who pay the bills.

Board members Anthony Borrelli and Eric Uhlig courageously voted “no” on the new teachers union contract under the glare of a large number of Park Ridge Education Association (“PREA,” a/k/a the teachers union) members who showed up at that meeting despite knowing before the meeting even started that they had the votes of at least a four Board member majority – Pres. John Heyde, Pat Fioretto, Sharon Lawson and Scott Zimmerman – already locked up; and that the key was in the lock for the vote of a fifth Board member, Dan Collins.  

We can only surmise that the brigade of PREA teachers were deployed there for more than just the lack of something better to do that night, especially since they did nothing but let their presence be felt and their eyes do their talking – except when they broke into loud applause at the end of the remarks of Board member/PREA-lackey Pasquale “Pat” Fioretto.  Fioretto helped Heyde negotiate (hah!) the new contract and couldn’t pass up an opportunity to fluff and stroke the folks whose bidding he so readily and successfully undertook.

The mere presence of the teachers, however, may have been sufficient to keep all but one of the non-teacher attendees from speaking against the new contract that provides average raises characterized by the District and PREA as a “modest 2%” but which, when “step” (seniority) and “lane” (continuing education) increases are added in, reportedly run in the 4%+ range for each of the next 4 years – along with the taxpayer-guaranteed pension benefits substantially better than those enjoyed by the vast majority of the taxpayers who are footing the bill for them.  And did we mention that’s for an 8-9 month work year – with summers off, just like the rest of us had when we were in school.

While the assembled parents sat meekly silent through the contract discussion, they magically began chirping when the topic shifted to the District’s after-school program – or, as we call it, the District’s taxpayer-subsidized babysitting.   Several previously mute parents stood up to voice their concerns about a new plan to de-centralize the after-school program, which now buses approximately 280 children from their neighborhood schools to Jefferson School.  Under the new plan, after-school programs would be conducted at each of the “home” elementary schools.

The parents’ discussion of the after-school program, when compared to their non-discussion of the new PREA contract and teacher salary increases, could be viewed as a demonstration of why the chances for meaningful school and budgetary reform at D-64 are pathetic going on hopeless.

The special interests who dominate D-64’s operation don’t give a rat’s derriere about the taxpayers.

The teachers don’t.  Notwithstanding all their carefully-orchestrated “for the kids” propaganda, it appears that most teachers are in it for the money, just like most other workers in most other fieldsFrankly, that’s fine with us – if only they would just be up-front about it rather than adopting their faux-Mother Teresa personae while trying to improve on their reported 25th highest-paid teachers in the state ranking.  We also wish they’d stop hiding behind such shamelessly illusory and non-measurable “standards” of student performance as “educating the whole child” and developing “emotional intelligence.”  

The administrators don’t.   Almost all of them are former teachers who would rather maintain the status quo than demand better teacher and student performance, or improve cost controls.  They’re already the reportedly 4th highest-paid administrators in the state despite their students’ measurable performance being well south of that ranking.  And constantly-increasing teacher salaries just gives them a better argument for increases in their own compensation.

The parents of D-64 students generally don’t.  They’re kids are getting $12,000/year D-64 educations while they pay, on average, less than $4,000/year in property taxes to D-64. An extra $25, $50 or even $100 a year in taxes to D-64 barely moves the needle on that equation.  And those parents aren’t likely to risk crossing the very teachers who have the ability to subjectively grade their kids’ performance.

And most of our School Board members don’t.  Board members who are PREA sycophants can count on the political support of PREA members.  And those who have kids in the District are under the same influences as regular D-64 parents.   That makes Borrelli’s and Uhlig’s “no” votes even more courageous and commendable, given our understanding that they both have children in D-64 schools.  “Yes”-voting D-64 parents Heyde, Zimmerman and Collins took the easy way out.

Only Borrelli and Uhlig voiced any concerns about the taxpayers, which promptly got Borrelli barbecued  by retired D-64 teacher and PREA activist Fred Klonsky on his blog post.  In Klonsky’s world, teachers will always be underpaid and underappreciated, even as he enjoys (at the ripe old age of 64?) his taxpayer-guaranteed defined-benefit pension after a mere 30 years of service that we understand will pay him 80% of his final years’ salary for the rest of his life.

Oh, to be one of those poor deprived and disrespected teachers! 

But it took Fioretto’s six-minute ode to collective bargaining (from 1:27:44 to 1:33: 55 of Monday night’s meeting video) to really illustrate the abysmally low regard – bordering on contempt(?) – the majority of this D-64 Board and the administration have for the taxpayers.   During that six minute oration in which Fioretto extolled the new contract and its fairness to the teachers, he didn’t utter the word “taxpayers” once.  Not even once. 

That’s because to Board members Fioretto, Heyde, Zimmerman, Lawson and Collins, and to Supt. Phil Bender’s D-64 Administration, taxpayers are just a bunch of dairy cattle whose only purpose is to be milked as often and as much as possible until they run dry and wander off to some other lower-taxing pasture, to be replaced by newer, more productive stock – preferably in time for the next big tax-hike referendum already on the horizon. 

Can you say “Moo?”

UPDATED 09.27.12.  We have been advised that the “80%” pension we described for Mr. Klonsky should be 75% – of the average of his last four years salaries.  We don’t know if that’s accurate, either, because we can’t find any confirmation of the D-64 website (SURPRISE!). 

Using information gained from the Family Taxpayers Foundation website  ( because we couldn’t find such information on the D-64 website (SURPRISE!), however, we discovered that Mr. Klonsky’s reported last four full years’ salaries were: $102,143 in 2011, $96,361 in 2010, $94,505 in 2009, and $91,425 in 2008, which totals $384,434 and averages out to $96,108.50.  For an 8-9 month work year, which annualizes out to a tidy $120,000 – without the risk of the employer moving to another state, or another country; and with virtually no chance of being fired.

75% of that is a shade over $72,000/year, guaranteed by…wait for it…the taxpayers, while our rough calculation of what a private sector worker needs in his/her 401(k) to receive that same $72,000/year retirement benefit is a cool $1 million, so long as it’s generating a 4% minimum annual return. 

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