Public Watchdog.org

Are Our Schools Threatening Park Ridge Property Values?

11.04.13

Are our local public schools becoming a threat to Park Ridge property values?

Historically “our schools” has been an almost reflexive response to the question of what drives Park Ridge’s property values.  And for those residents whose homes might be their single most valuable asset, preserving the value of those homes and hoping they will appreciate is a major concern.  That means keeping Park Ridge an attractive and desirable community where current residents want to remain, and to where non-residents want to relocate.

For people living in the City of Chicago or outside the Chicagoland area and looking to purchase a home in the Chicago suburbs, why would they pick Park Ridge?

For those looking for a bedroom community close to the Loop, Park Ridge fills the bill.  The same goes for being close to O’Hare Airport, although that comes with a different set of concerns.  Another plus is that we’re almost equally convenient to the major shopping areas of Oak Brook Center, Woodfield Mall, Northbrook Court and Gurnee Mills.

But if high-ranking public schools are decisive, not even one Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 school can be found in the latest Chicago Sun-Times’ “Top 50” rankings of elementary and middle schools. 

That means house hunters are likely to consider Oak Brook (with a school ranked 11th), River Forest (12th), Naperville (with schools ranked 13th and 26th), Lincolnshire (14th), Hinsdale (15th, 30th and 49th), Wheaton (16th), Schaumburg (17th), Clarendon Hills (18th and 24th), Barrington (19th, 24th and 50th), Western Springs (22nd), Winnetka (23rd), Wilmette (28th and 35th), Hoffman Estates (29th), Northbrook (30th), Elmhurst (32nd, 39th and 47th), Palatine (33rd), Glenview (37th and 48th), Burr Ridge (38th), Buffalo Grove (40th), LaGrange (41st), Arlington Heights (41st), South Barrington (41st), Evanston (44th) and Deerfield (46th) a lot more attractive than Park Ridge.

And for those looking at middle schools rankings, Park Ridge will be taking a back seat to Wilmette (10th and 25th), Lincolnshire (13th), Oak Brook (15th), Northbrook (16th and 47th), Lisle (19th), Buffalo Grove (20th), Kenilworth (22nd), Western Springs (24th), River Forest (26th), Hinsdale (27th), Glencoe (29th), Long Grove (30th), Northfield (31st), Clarendon Hills (32nd), Hoffman Estates (33rd), Elmhurst (36th), Winnetka (38th), Deerfield (43rd), Burr Ridge (44th), Elk Grove Village (45th), Rolling Meadows (48th) and Naperville (49th and 50th).

The more sophisticated home buyers looking at communities which have ranked schools in both categories can choose from among Buffalo Grove, Burr Ridge, Clarendon Hills, Deerfield, Elmhurst, Hinsdale, Hoffman Estates, Lincolnshire, Naperville, Oak Brook, River Forest, Western Springs and Wilmette instead of Park Ridge.  And Elmhurst, River Forest and Western Springs are the virtual equals of Park Ridge when considering commutes to the Loop, with Burr Ridge, Hinsdale and Wilmette not far behind.

Worse yet, the flagship of Maine Twp. High School District 207, Maine South, has dropped from a 24th place ranking of high schools last year to a 26th place ranking this year.

So why should a potential home buyer pick Park Ridge?

It’s certainly not because of Park Ridge’s lower property taxes.  D-64’s property are higher than many of the school districts in those other communities, but without the benefit of elementary and middle schools in the Top 50.  While it’s possible the total tax bill for those other communities might be higher than the total tax bill for D-64 residents, it’s not very likely from the limited spot checking we did.

So while a number of Park Ridgians still insist that D-64 schools are outstanding and well worth the price of admission – like the D-64 teachers and administrators who have the biggest immediate stake in perpetuating the myth – objective measurements suggest otherwise.  And it’s starting to look like the underachievement that seems to have become institutionalized at D-64 may be trickling up to Maine South.

Not surprisingly, D-64 leadership is responding to the latest test results in the same vacuous fashion it employed in past years when confronting similarly mediocre performance results and rankings.  One only need read a few of the the edu-babble sound bites from D-64’s Assistant Supt. for Student Learning, Lori Hinton, contained in the District’s press release about these results, to appreciate the thoroughness of the denial, such as:

“As we look ahead, we believe that maintaining a clear focus on individual student growth – and the high-yield instructional strategies that support such growth – will help us fuel ongoing improvement in student achievement.”  

We’re more accustomed to hearing the term “high-yield” used to describe strategic nuclear devices, but we probably shouldn’t be surprised to see the high cost, low accountability educational establishment emulating the high cost, low accountability military establishment.

Or how about this bon mot from Ms. Hinton:

“District 64 teachers in recent years have become more skilled at reviewing data to identify student needs and differentiating instruction for small groups of students, and we will be boosting professional development for teachers on these high yield instructional strategies.” 

Are you getting the idea that “high yield instructional strategies” might be the newest catch-phrase among D-64 administrators?

And finishing on a high note:

“The District’s mean scores have increased over the past five years at all grade levels in reading and math, and our students continue to achieve at levels significantly higher than national means.”

Memo to Ms. Hinton: Park Ridge is nothing close to a “national means” community when it comes to household income, home prices, taxes, and other conventional measures of affluence.  So why are you even talking about “national means” as a benchmark for our kids’ academic performance… other than to divert attention from the fact that their performance doesn’t match up with truly comparable communities in the Chicagoland area?

We can think of a variety of explanations for D-64’s underachievement on standardized testing and test score-based rankings.  One might be that Park Ridge is attracting increasing numbers of residents with  more modest intellectual capacity who, in turn, produce progeny of similarly unspectacular capacity.  That might provoke howls of outrage, but let the howlers produce better explanations – or at least better ones than D-64’s old standby that it doesn’t “teach to the test,” an alibi which usually is spoken with a dismissive pseudo-snobbish sneer of disdain that denigrates the very concept of standardized testing. 

Not surprisingly, neither “Improving the District’s academic ranking” nor “Improving standardized testing performance” were among the criteria for choosing a new superintendent listed on the BWP anonymous survey

So long as D-64 officials – including our elected school board members who are charged with safeguarding the taxpayers’ interest – continue to fiddle while the District’s ranking burns, our property values are likely to be increasingly at risk.  And as more questions about measurable performance and the quality of instruction arise, factors such as increased air traffic from O’Hare expansion can be expected to take on added signficance and exert increasing downward pressure on property values.

That’s not a spiral anybody should want to see our community begin.

To read or post comments, click on title.

36 comments so far

Once again you raise a controversial point that none of our local newspapers, or D64, want to address. If our local schools continue to slip in stature (and rankings based on test scores are still the only way to compare districts), our property values are going to suffer. School quality and airport noise are our only two major variables.

EDITOR’S NOTE: But only school costs are directly measurable: we can’t really tell how much airport noise is actually costing our community as a whole.

For some reason many families move to PR, paying the high property taxes here, and send their children to parochial schools, or private schools such as the Science Academy, North Shore Prep, etc. So, I still take issue with the high salaries PR teachers make vs the “standard” or quality of the education they “teach.”

In fact, one of the problems no one seems to see, or at least it is never mentioned, is that to a young college age “kid”, getting a teaching degree that will start one with a pretty high salary, summers off, guaranteed wage and benefit increases (secured by the teacher’s unions) and a lifetime pension is an “attractive” profession. It’s a damn good job – and you don’t even have to be good at it. But is there any “passion” or even “desire” to TEACH? There was a show on Channel 11 (which I can’t remember the title)3-4 yrs ago on how Norway turned their education system 180 degree around. One thing mentioned that “stuck” with me was that most of the teachers in the US come from the bottom 1/3 of their class. To get a teaching position (which is very high paying) in Norway, one has to be in the top 10% of their class. I am not professing that here – just making a point about the overall quality of education in the US and a general problem with teachers making a wage that doesn’t equate with performance.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As we recall from reviewing the current contract, a new D-64 teacher starts at $44,000+…AND is guaranteed “step” increases simply for staying on the job in future years; and “lane” increases to the extent he/she takes additional steps toward a higher degree. Those step and lane increases, as we understand it, do not “equate with performance” in the classroom but are basic across-the-board increases. And, yes, that comes with summers off (unless they choose to spend part of those summers on some nice college campus casually working toward an advanced degree), Christmas Break, Spring Break, virtually every holiday celebrated by anybody in the United States and/or Illinois residents, etc.

The closest we come to the Norway model might be the Teach for America program, that picks teachers from a pool of high-achieving grads from top colleges, usually with majors other than “education,” gives them a crash course in teaching, and then provides mentoring during the typical TFA 2-year commitment. But a 2008 Harvard Graduate School of Education study revealed that 43.6 percent of TFA corps members voluntarily remained in their initial low-income placement schools for more than two years and 14.8 percent stayed in those placements for more than four years, while 60.5 percent voluntarily remained in the teaching profession for more than two years and 35.5 percent stayed in teaching for more than four years.

When “you can always teach” has been the decades-old prescription for the lackluster, and when everything BUT talent and love (for kids and for the subject; one or the other does not count) are the criteria for raises, what can we expect?
I have been fighting this fight ever since my kids were in grade school when I routinely took issue with the stern admonishment to NOT ask for a certain teacher or ask to avoid a certain teacher. But long before Yelp, parents knew who loved kids and loved teaching, and who was just putting in the time. Any kid can tell you. And no, they don’t just like the easy graders. Any bully can call kids out — only a talented, devoted teacher can call kids’ abilities forth. So let’s not make the question why can’t schoolteachers earn a pittance and room in various attics on the prairie as they did in the faux GOod Ole Days. Let’s make the question HOW CAN WE GET OUR MONEY’S WORTH? I’d say start by letting parents and kids — the paying customers and the usage customers — say what everybody knows is true.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “HOW CAN WE GET OUR MONEY’S WORTH?” What a novel concept! When was the last time your heard or read about a D-64 school board member asking that question in a public meeting?

That’s what I mean – that’s a “passion” a true desire to “teach.” And this is coming from “highly educated” top of the class students, who didn’t go into teaching “for the money and benefits.” Alas, what’s possible in a small country like Norway is simply impossible in a large and diverse country like the US.

But those you noted above, the point it stated.

Food for thought
http://m.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/05/why-high-school-rankings-are-meaningless-and-harmful/276122/

EDITOR’S NOTE: National high school academic rankings are as meaningless as national high school football rankings, for many of the reasons stated in that article.

But that rationale is far less persuasive when you are talking about school districts within a much smaller geographic area, like the Chicagoland metropolitan area; and you are using the scores on a standardized test.

OK..so haw many parents in PR are urging and encouraging your kids to enter the teaching profession. Raise your hand. Hello???

EDITOR’S NOTE: And yet there are double-digit applications for every open teaching position in all these upper-middle class suburbs. GO figure.

How many parents in PR are urging and encouraging their kids to be options traders?

Just pointing out one of the many underlying themes in this multi faceted issue. We have all these folks going on and about what a wonderful “high paying”, easy (summers off) job teaching is and yet how many of them would want their child t choose teaching as a career. How many folks in PR are urging their kids to be teachers?? Virtually none. I wonder why that is.

By the way, those folks applying for teaching jobs you reference. Once they get the job they become lackluster with no love for the kids or the subject. Just ask 7:30.

EDITOR’S NOTE: But how many PR parents are actively DISCOURAGING their kids from becoming teachers? We’d bet darn few because, in the end, it’s a respectable, stable and relatively lucrative (VERY lucrative when the pension is figured in) occupation.

Actually, I see ALOT of parents with kids floundering around in college who eventually, after 2-3 yrs of directionless study, end up going into teaching simply for lack “anything better to do.” And from those kids, I’ve noticed the ones that go into math or science seem to “want” to teach, not just get a cushy job. Anecdotal? Yes, but in my profession, working in PR (as well as being a resident) that’s what I’ve been seeing over the years.

Regardless, PR teachers make way, way too much for their performance – and I don’t say that lightly. Both my mother and sister were in the PR education system for years. And I have and will continue to vote against any contract raises until something changes in favor of the students and the taxpayers.

Resident 5:41, that’s an interesting note. However, unless you are teaching something highly specialized, I really don’t care if someone is at the top of their class or the middle.

Teaching is about passion, temperament, patience, communication…and much more. The drive to over-eductate teachers is a ploy for them to get more money and to pacify parents.

The only way teachers (or any profession) should get these increases is with MEASURED production. Obviously, the only way to fix education is to just give parents the check and they decide where the money goes. But the union way doesn’t like markets, because then they would be exposed as to provided a shoddy product for a cadillac price.

It’s a blog so let’s be honest here. The perception that D64 is good ONLY relates to the fact that people are comfortable with the demographics that are in Park Ridge. It has nothing to do with the success of administration or teachers. Everyone knows that, but obviously can’t talk about it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: D-64 IS “good” when it comes to providing an education that is above average. Unfortunately, the taxpayers are paying for what should be a “very good” or even “great” education. And for the past 20+ years, neither the elected School Board nor the highly-paid administrators have demanded objectively measurable performance commensurate with the costs.

“PR teachers make way, way too much for their performance…”

How do you quantify what’s too much? In my opinion, there are many people who make way, way too much for their performance. Singling teachers out as undeserving of decent compensation is unfair. I’ve known many teachers and not a single one has gone into the profession for the money. I did know one who admitted she went into teaching for the “summers off,” but within a few years she quit, realizing that it wasn’t as cushy a job as she’d envisioned. Lots of time spent outside of school hours, lots of money spent out of her own pocket on supplies.

In any case, I agree that we need to elevate teaching as a profession that deserves greater regard and respect. And we need more bright young people choosing teaching for the right reasons.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Teachers in Park Ridge already make better than “decent compensation,” with the median D-64 teacher income (as we understand it, given how difficult it is to get accurate information) closing in on the median household income.

If teachers want to be viewed as “professionals,” the first thing they will need to do is get rid of their one-size-fits-all automatic, non-merit based step salary increases. Unfortunately, that will end the discussion right there.

“Everyone knows that, but obviously can’t talk about it”.

Now there is an argument you can sink your teeth into!! I give up. I mean how can anyone argue with that since 10:01 says “everyone knows that”. I mean who am I to argue with everyone??

EDITOR’S NOTE: From our experience, anytime somebody says “everybody knows” something, the more likely truth is that almost nobody knows it.

“The perception that D64 is good ONLY relates to the fact that people are comfortable with the demographics that are in Park Ridge.”

Really? So the only thing that people think is good about D64 is that the students are largely white and not low income? I don’t know any parents who think that, and they are not the type who “can’t talk about it.” I guess I can believe that it might be true about some people here, although I find it incredibly sad. We should be striving for excellence, not for homogeneity.

EDITOR’S NOTE: At this point we have the wrong one. How’s that working for you?

Anon 10:44— Your opinion as to thinking people make too much money in the private sector means jack squat, because the MARKET determines their pay. Here, we have unions, paid off politicians, wimpy boards and free-loading parents throwing money around.
I would GLADLY pay teachers market value, let’s give the market a chance. I think some teachers could even make more than they do now. In fact, wouldn’t it be great to get rid of the lazy or bad teachers? Oh wait, we can’t.

11:44– LOL. If it’s not perceived success because of the demographics, then why would people believe D64 is anything special? Plus, don’t turn easy words around. No one said “striving”…easy there.
Park Ridge people generally think being with other Park Ridge people make something special. Well, clearly it doesn’t equate to satisfactory test scores.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Inbreeding hasn’t done much to improve test scores down in the Ozarks and Appalachia, either.

To answer the question from the title, yes it is and will be hurting our property values. If I had the choice to live in the city (save about 25-40% off my property tax bill) and send my kid to private school or pay the premium to live in Park Ridge and send to D64, my choice would be live in the city.

When people get married and are planning to move to their home from the city or wherever, they do check the stats. Property taxes is the first thing, because that directly effects the amount of mortgage they can get. Then, when they balance that with average schools, they will see they could get much better value in other places.

2:32 stated the following:

“Then, when they balance that with average schools, they will see they could get much better value in other places”.

I see. Now the schools are just average. Gee, if we spin this for a few more hours someone will say we have the worst schools in Illinois.

10:44
When 207 teachers rank as the third highest paid in the state but MS ranks 26th then yes, I can say without reserve that they make WAY, WAY, WAY, WAY too much. What private sector employers chose to pay their employees with their own money is their business. But when the taxpayers are paying for the services they have every right to get exactly what they pay for.

Personally I’m totally against standardized testing that equates with “teaching to the tests”. It’s a bad idea all the way around when put into practice. But as the PW always states, “if that is the measurement we have by which to judge performance” (paraphrased, I hope correctly) then to fall so far short of that, as PR schools do, I repeat again that PR teachers are paid as many ways too much as one can state it.

I might add that one complaint that I hear often about PR schools is that we have excellent special education programs and excellent programs for excelling students, but the kids in the middle (the “average” kids)kind of get lost or ignored. Both my kids were in CofC and advanced placement thru their entire PR school years – so I had nothing to complain about. But that’s what I hear from other parents – just saying.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Based on this editor’s own personal knowledge and also information received second and third hand, CofC has been a consistently good and well-received (by parents) program. Special ed, on the other hand, has been more uneven and much more dependent on the ability and attitude of individual special ed teachers. When special ed fails, however, the costs or compensating for, or remediating, those failures tend to be much higher.

“Personally I’m totally against standardized testing that equates with “teaching to the tests”. It’s a bad idea all the way around when put into practice”.

So here you have a person who states as clear as a person can possibly state that he/she is against (excuse me not just against but TOTALLY against) standardized tests. He/she even goes further to call them a bad idea all they way around. Yet he still wants to use them as a measurement of compensation. I am sorry but I just do not get that.

As an aside, I took a completely unscientific look at some numbers for some schools around where Maine South is ranked (lake Zurich, Lyons, Wheaton, York). Three are differences, but are this differences enough to rate for way’s in all caps (WAY,WAY,WAY,WAY)?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Right now the “measurement of compensation” for D-64 teachers is completely and totally unrelated to performance. In what universe has THAT management strategy proven effective?

How come you mentions all those shopping centers and not Golf Mill or the HIP which are actually nearby?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Because we were writing about “destination” shopping centers.

PW
I’m curious about your last comment “When sp ed fails…” Can you elaborate with “specifics”?

EDITOR’S NOTE: When special ed kids fail to make adequate progress, the District can and usually does pay for supplemental/remedial instruction…at additional cost to the taxpayers. And most of the time it all gets “swept under the rug” because the parents just want service and the District doesn’t want want attention of this type.

5:47
I knew someone would bring up/question my being “totally against” the standardized testing method of assessment. This isn’t the topic here, but I can say in a few words that season 4 of the TV series THE WIRE depicts quite well “the other side” of the current method used.

But what I don’t understand is why you don’t understand that something’s wrong here. We have the third highest paid teachers and rank 26th in performance on the “current testing method.” And you’re okay with that?

PD:

Fair enough but at least Resident should do a better job of “selling” the test. He/she in their own words does not like the tests. He/she does not like standardized test that equate with teaching to test scores. Well what does he/she think is going to happen if we tell teachers “your pay is going to be based on this number”? An incentive comp plan does just that. It incentivizes people to do X to get more money.

Resident’s message is “we will pay you based on this number but for god sake don’t teach to it!!”

EDITOR’S NOTE: What currently “incentivizes” D-64 teachers who have a collective bargaining agreement that provides for step and ladder increases irrespective of student performance?

Want to get into a top college? Better kill the ACT or SAT. Want to get into a top law school? Better kill the LSAT. Want to get into a top med school? Better kill the MCAT. Yet when it comes to measuring student performance in grammar school and high school, suddenly there’s something terribly wrong and aberrational about standardized testing? Hogwash!

To say you are totally against the test, you do not want teachers to teach to the test and it would be a bad idea all the way around, and still want that same test to be used to determine compensation…..now that is hogwash!!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Fine. Now, are you against the current system of non-performance based “step” and “lane” increases?

Re: standardized testing
Google criticism of standardize tests and read.
Here’s one for you
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/02/arne-duncan-aera-speech-standardized-tests_n_3196437.html

EDITOR’S NOTE: More mush from a wimp politician who accomplished little as CEO of the Chicago Public Schools but got promoted to Secretary of Education by his hoop-shooting buddy.

8:26, minor point but when it comes to special ed, it’s not about “parents wanting services” as much as it’s about kids being entitled by law to get the services and support they need in the environment that’s most appropriate for them.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Our note that “parents just want service” meant those services to which their kids are legally entitled. So when the District fails to provide them in an effective way during the regular school day and year, it results in additional expenditures of tax dollars for supplemental/remedial services after school, on weekends and during the summer. And THAT’s what the District tries to sweep under the rug.

D64 isn’t alone in tuitioning kids with special needs out to other schools. And in very recent years they have made a concerted effort to keep more of them here in their home schools. Which could be one factor why our test scores might be lower. Think about it. I had a friend who did an intership for a special ed degree in a north shore elementary school last year. Nearly all their special needs kids had been tuitioned out so the presumably lower test scores of that population of students wouldn’t be included in the school’s overall scores. Something to look into/keep in mind.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Everybody does it” doesn’t cut it, as most parents know from not accepting that lame excuse from their kids.

Our understanding of why the “concerted effort” has been made is to keep more of the funding in-house. That’s all well and good if the services are solid and if it actually is more economical, but not so hot if the services are insufficient and the savings are eaten up by the costs of supplemental/remedial services.

As for special ed kids hurting the test scores, we would love to see the data in support of that argument.

The original question posed by the editor was are our schools threatening property values? I have two thoughts on this question.

First, with all the PR issues that have “threatened” and in some cases actually lowered property values (the market crash and housing bubble, flooding, runways, lack of available loans to name a few) I have no idea how you would even be able to carve out if, how, or how much the change in test score results in the suntimes review has or would affect property values. In the past test scores and school rankings have gone up and it would be similarly difficult to quantify if that meant property values went up.

Second, a part of me says that you are giving the consumer too much credit. Certainly school systems are a critical part of the home buying equation, but I think many folks use data from “clearing houses”. As an example, if you go to a realty website to look for homes, they have a service called goodschools rating. If you look at Park Ridge schools, Washington is a 10 (out of 10), Carpenter is a 9, Lincoln and Emerson are 9’s and MS is a 10.

Considering we can barely even get 30% of people to even take the time to vote, I am doubtful about how many people would drill this down to the decimal point comparing PR to Lake Zurich and so on.

So are our schools threatening our property values? To use your words, I would love to see the data in support of that argument.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We love data, but who is going to put together this kind of study? D-64 sure isn’t going to want to risk implicating itself in a decline of property values, and nobody in Park Ridge has anything to gain by proving that the schools are pulling down values.

But when the Sun-Times (or the Tribune, or Chicago Magazine) do their ISAT-related rankings and D-64 is nowhere to be found, that doesn’t require a home buyer to do a lot of drilling down.

Pretend you are a home buyer and go to realtor.com, or trulia or Zillow and look at the school and community tabs. They are all 9’s and 10’s.

I am not trying to defend the scores. I am simply saying I am not convince people will do much more than look at a school rating or realty website.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you are right and the people who are now moving into Park Ridge are stupid enough to rely on realty website ratings of schools, that might give additional credence to the argument that the kids these dolts are breeding really are dumber than previous generations of D-64 kids.

PWD reply @4:51, I think you’re onto something there. Not that this generation of D64 parents is dumber than their parents but that they are comfortable and even complacent when it comes to the schools. It’s the attitude of “if it was good enough for me, then it’s good enough for my kids.”

That’s more powerful than a Good schools rating, which (if anyone’s ever read them) are utterly worthless. So they wouldn’t even know if quality is slipping because they feel they have no reason to ever dig deep regarding the schools.

Having met so many people in Park Ridge who grew up here and either never left or left and came back to raise kids, I often wonder if we are unique or are our neighboring suburbs similar in that regard?

EDITOR’S NOTE: What difference does it make whether we are “unique” or not? The only issue that we are addressing in this post is: Are the taxpayers getting full and fair value from the schools, particularly D-64?

“hoop-shooting buddy”?
Wow.
Funny how little it takes to bring that out in some people…

EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s only because, when it comes to Arne, there’s so little there to bring out. He’s a “politician” in the Billy Daley mold (albeit with better academic credentials than Billy D’s) who gets clouted into important appointed governmental positions but never actually runs for, and gets elected to, public office by the voters.

SHOCKING NEWS…..
District 207 looking to hike property taxes next year
http://parkridge.suntimes.com/news/schools/levy207-PRA-11142013:article

EDITOR’S NOTE: If we understand the story, D-207 wants to collect $3.6 million more of taxes in 2013, a 3.4% levy increase over last year. But the CPI allows D-207 to increase its levy only by 1.7%, or by $1.8 million (plus taxes associated with new construction). So homeowners will pay an additional $17 for every $1,000 in D-207 taxes.

But wait, there’s more!

According to the H-A story, “Assistant Superintendent for Business Mary Kalou anticipates a $1.38 million reduction in levied taxes if the board in December chooses to continue the district’s “tradition” of abating the debt service fund.”

And: “Regardless of what gets added to the tax roll, the district predicts a tax rate of 2.31 per every $100 of a property’s equalized assessed value.”

Got it?

http://www.suntimes.com/data/14288435-666/illinois-teacher-salaries-how-school-districtrs-compare.html?appSession=902421354256627
You sure about claim that dst 64 is third highest paid in state? This listing has “highest salary rank” at 143 and this year suntimes has Lincoln and Washington ranked much higher than 143

EDITOR’S NOTE: You may want to check out:

http://www.isbe.net/research/pdfs/teacher_salary_12-13.pdf

Anon 945. I see the rank in the suntimes link and dist 64 is 143rd in salary. On isbe website none of those tables have ranking. Am I missing something? But to compare apples to apples shouldn’t we use suntimes rankings for both school rank (since this blog entry is about our district not being ranked in top 4 but getting paid in top 4) and salary of teacher (suntimes believes district 64 is 143 in salary while Enerson and Lincoln and Washington ranked higher than that) maybe we are getting our money’s worth if those are the only factors to consider?

EDITOR’S NOTE: This blog post is about D-64 not having even 1 school among the Top 50 in the Sun-Times ranking – despite having some of the highest paid teachers and administrators, and one of the higher costs-per-pupil.

The “143” ranking you note is just for the “Highest Salary” in the system: the ranking is 63rd for “Beg. Bachelors,” 48th for “Beg. Masters” and 161 for “Top Masters.”

The ISBE figures, although lacking rankings, appear to have more recent (2012-2013) data than the Sun-Times August 2012 (which likely is for 2011-2012). Hence, the Sun-Times “Beg. Bachelors” figure for D-64 is $44,883 v. the ISBE figure of $45,780; and the Sun-Times “Highest” of $99,386 v. the ISBE’s $101,374.

Similarly, for Wilmette D-39 the Sun-Times reports a “Beg. Bachelors” of $43,747 v. the ISBE’s $44,709, and a “Highest” of $103,023 v. the ISBE’s $101,099.

Easy. The hoards of Liberal left leaning city transplants with kids who spent a handful of years in ‘up and coming’ CPS schools are clearly not ready for rigorous d64 educations, and they are dragging down the average scores of park ridge schools. Seriously. Talk to a handful of parents with children in elementary schools and there’s a good chance their children attended an underperforming CPS school in some lakeshore neighborhood or in some predominantly nw side Eastern European neighborhood. It’s no surprise our average scores are lower considering that something like 12% of the town is foreign born.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Hey, if that’s D-64’s official position, let them say so. Or let them say that Park Ridge simply attracts more stupid people, who breed stupid kids, than places like Wilmette, Elmhurst, Glenview, Western Springs, etc.

No really, I have young children and I take them to the parks around town. I’d venture to say that a significant percentage of the children playing at the parks are NOT speaking English to their parents on the playground. Parents feel that it’s important to teach their children the native language of their homeland but ultimately it affects their English learning skills. A lower English ability is going to translate into lower english testing scores. It’s always better to speak one language fluently than two languages less fluently. The remaining children are generally city transplants from the lakefront neighborhoods, and it’s without question that they are behind. Kids can’t attend some garbage CPS school for K-4 and not be affected at least in the short term when they enter D64 high quality schools.

Yes, in my opinion, Park Ridge attracts a different crowd and city transplant than “Wilmette, Elmhurst, Glenview, Western Springs” which in my opinion (however correct or incorrect it is) I feel attract fewer kids who previously attended some atrocious CPS school for X number of years before attending a suburban school.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sorry, anonymous “Newcomer,” but your anecdotes about kids in the parks don’t mean much to us.

But if the folks over at D-64 wan’t to plead your excuse for mediocre test scores, let them do it. That’s fine with us. Until they do, however, we’re not buying it.

“Sorry, anonymous “Newcomer,” but your anecdotes about kids in the parks don’t mean much to us. ”

Disregard anecdotes at your risk because what I report is facts on the ground and in the trenches. A series of anecdotes becomes a factual pattern, and a pattern becomes a correlation and often a cause of something else. You asked why, and I gave you an answer and quite frankly it’s just as valid a reason as blaming D64 administration for teaching mediocrity.

“actors such as increased air traffic from O’Hare expansion can be expected to take on added signficance and exert increasing downward pressure on property values.”

Half of Park Ridge now experiences LESS O’Hare traffic now that the diagonal runways usage has been reduced to nearly nothing. If anything, flooding is the major problem. Ask anybody, Park Ridge has a reputation for flooding, and I personally know a handful of people who looked at other towns to purchase specifically because the flooding. And the entire town floods in different areas for different reasons: overland, sewer back up, river, ground water intrusion etc. God forbid a transformer blows during a major storm; 95% of the town will flood one way or another.

Furthermore, despite these concerns, property values are increasing, often into the double digits. In fact, Zillow says that the average price per sq foot is up to $?240, which is a 10.2?% Y-o-Y increase. That’s not a small jump in the world of real estate.

If you really want to worry about values dropping, then you should be concerned with any perception that Park Ridge is a middle class, as opposed to upper middle class neighborhood to live in. The day that residents of neighboring towns (DP, Niles, Morton) think that Park Ridge is where they want to live is the day that people will flee.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re not disputing your anecdotes about kids in Park Ridge parks speaking foreign languages. Historically, Park Ridge regularly has had “problems” with “non-residents” using its parks (which they are legally entitled to do). The language that kids speak in Park Ridge parks, therefore, does not necessarily translate into a substantial increase in D-64’s ESL population.

4% of D-64 students are “English Learners,” up from 2% in 2009. But for your argument to hold water, the ISAT scores would have to be higher at Roosevelt (with 4% EL), then at Franklin (with 6%), Washington and Field (with 7%), and Carpenter (with 8% EL). And that wouldn’t explain D-64’s Middle School continuing mediocrity, because Lincoln has 0% EL (down from 1% IN 2009) and Emerson only 1% (down from 2% in 2009).

Is flooding a problem? Absolutely! Can it be remedied for less than $100 million? We doubt it. Do residents want to invest $100 million of bonded debt over 20 years to maybe remedy it?

You talk so much about “market value” in education. Why do you believe that teachers in district 207 aren’t being paid market value? You are getting exactly what you pay for and finding out that salary is not the only thing that attracts good teachers to a district. New Trier’s teachers would never work for District 207. Why? Because New Trier not only pays them well, but does not disrespect them and the work that they do. You demean your teachers and then wonder why students in the district do not listen to them. You say they are overpaid and then are surprised when top notch talent decides not to apply. You claim the best solution is to fire anyone who doesn’t perform to your standards and hire someone who will. Well, who is this person? What will they do differently? Why would they want to work in a district whose residents think an educator is just a “hen” that can’t be entrusted to run the hen house? It’s so easy to criticize but the truth is, you don’t have any meaningful ideas to improve our schools.

Over and over you’ve sounded off about market dynamics. Show me where in the private sector people get only what their merit earns. Let’s start with Richard Fuld, former head of Lehman Brothers, one of the top 25 highest paid executives for eight straight years, that is until Lehman Brothers winked out of existence in 2008. Or how about Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs who got $60.7 million in severance as his company got a government bailout. If you examine the top 250 paid executives in 2013, nearly 40% of their companies either got a government bailout, the CEO got straight up fired or their companies had to pay fraud related settlements last year. Explain how market dynamics always pay people what they deserve given these facts.

The merit based pay you so endorse doesn’t exist in the private sector. Nor do Maine Township teachers get paid outside of their market value. If you want a better quality teacher, you’ll have to do more than offer a good salary. The best in this field simply don’t want to work in a district that thinks so little of teachers and their abilities. How do you do it? How do you say on one hand that teachers are mere “hens” who can’t be trusted to make any decisions and then turn around and say they should be able to lead this district to the top of the rankings?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Congratualtions! This is one of the longest and most intellectually dishonest comments we’ve ever received.

The teachers and administrators have been running D-207 and D-64 (albeit indirectly through puppet school board members) for the past couple of decades during which the academic performance and rankings have steadily declined even as the costs and taxes have steadily increased. Precocious 8-year olds can manage their card-table sidewalk lemonade stands as good or better than our schools are being managed.

We’ve never claimed that “market dynamics always pay people what they deserve” – because “always” is rarely correct. But we presume you raise that straw man argument in order to shift attention away from the fact that truly “private sector” businesses don’t have employees who basically can’t be fired, who get annual non-merit based pay increases irrespective of how badly their organization is performing, who get constitutionally-guaranteed defined-benefit pensions for around 70% of their final salary, who can retire at age 55 or so after 30 years of service, whose place of work cannot be closed and moved to Mexico or Asia, and who only have to work 8-9 months of the year.

To say that “[t]he merit based pay you so endorse doesn’t exist in the private sector” is seriously wacky. Whose “private sector” are you talking about, North Korea’s?

But if “respect” is so darn important to all these teachers, let their unions devise and propose a 5-year “respect initiative” to increase their warm-and-fuzzies, that they will accept in lieu of pay and benefit increases for the next 5 years. Then we’ll see, once and for all, how it always has been about the money rather than the principle, be it “respect” or any other.



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