Public Watchdog.org

D-64 Keeps Biz Mgr. Allard A Solid “5%”-er Into Retirement

02.19.14

A couple of weeks ago we published our 02.07.14 post about new Park Ridge-Niles School District 64’s new superintendent, Laurie Heinz and the closed-session process by which the D-64 Board decided on the salary and benefits offered her.

We questioned how and why Heinz, being given her first crack at a superintendent position, should be paid as much as her predecessor, a veteran superintendent with four years of service here and a number of additional years in the a similar position in Indiana.  Not that she shouldn’t be paid that much, mind you, but we thought the taxpayers should know why and how that deal was actually determined.

Of course, that process is and likely will remain a mystery, because the D-64 Board didn’t want to disclose any of the factors or what passed for “reasoning”  during its deliberations.  Giving away large sums of tax dollars, especially in wages that dwarf the median Park Ridge household income, is not the kind of thing that those Board members want scrutinized by pesky taxpayers.

But the $201,000 salary (total compensation: $243,010) that Heinz will be paid as the District’s big cheese almost seems like a bargain compared to the Board’s recent decision to give business manager Rebecca Allard a contract extension for the 2014-15 school year and pay her a whopping $212,063 – which purportedly represents “an increase of two percent (2%) in the Administrator’s creditable earnings reportable to the Teacher’s Retirement System over her compensation package for the 2013-14 school year,” according to a copy of her June 28, 2014 Administrator’s Employment Contract that someone anonymously flung over our transom.

Oh, and part of the extension deal, according to the contract language, is that Allard tendered her “irrevocable notice of intent to resign for retirement purposes on June 30, 2015.”  Which means that extra bump could be felt in multiple amounts by Illinois taxpayers for another 20-30 years in the form of higher constitutionally-guaranteed pension benefits Allard can collect.

Although Allard’s deal was formally approved at the Board’s January 28, 2014, meeting, the details appear to have been worked out in typical D-64 secrecy during…wait for it…a 2-hour plus closed session on January 14.  So the taxpayers have no ability to see or hear whatever wisdom or absurdity went into shaping those contract terms.

District taxpayers will also hand Allard an additional $3,500 for “Personal Growth,” and may toss her an extra $2,500 “Merit Award” at the superintendent’s discretion.  Throw in $1,100 for cell phone expense and some car mileage money and Allard’s entire final-year package totals up to a nifty $219,163.

And that extraordinary sum also includes more than nine – NINE! – weeks of “vacation”: a month of paid vacation, 12 “legal school holidays,” and the potential for another three weeks of Xmas break and Spring break, should her services not “be required by the Superintendent” during those break periods.

That’s almost $70,000 more than the City of Park Ridge pays its rookie city manager, and almost as much as the City paid its previous veteran city manager – under a boneheaded contract awarded, over Mayor Dave Schmidt’s veto, by then-alds. Rich DiPietro, Don Bach, Jim Allegretti, Robert Ryan, Tom Carey, Frank Wsol and current Ald. Joe Sweeney, only a few months before all but DiPietro and Sweeney left the Council without even attempting to run for re-election.

Call it a fond parting gift to City taxpayers that kept on giving long after the boneheads departed.

Allard’s $212,000 base salary alone puts her well into the notorious “Top 5%” category of this country’s “rich” people which starts, based on the latest IRS figures, at around $168,000.  And according to the data we’ve reviewed from a variety of sources – Illinois doesn’t make it easy for the taxpayers to find such information in any one place, and different databases seem to have conflicting information – Allard might be able to collect around $150,000 a year in pension benefits, which will keep her within hailing distance of that “Top 5%” category into retirement.

Not half bad for government work – especially for someone who more than earned her share of the criticism we doled out in our 06.12.09, 03.17.11, 05.13.11, 07.22.13 and 01.21.14 posts.

Not surprisingly, we couldn’t find a D-64 press release hailing Allard’s contract from D-64’s minister of propaganda, Bernadette Tramm.  As Pres. George H.W. Bush used to say: “Wouldn’t be prudent” – especially having been concocted around the same time as the D-64 Board was secretly cooking up its sweet deal for Laurie Heinz.

And that, dear readers, is just more business-as-usual at D-64, where delivering measurable quality education seems to rank a distant second behind paying teachers and administrators handsomely, both while working and in retirement.

Compliments of, as always, OPM.

To read or post comments, click on title.

19 comments so far

This post makes me want to puke.

If we found someone for literally $100,000 less per year, would the result be any different than what D64 taxpayers received?

I’ve said this before, but the D64 negotiates with ghosts. This one is like paying for Kobe beef for USDA ground chuck.

Hey at least the board harms D64 taxpayers as well as the whole state all at once. That’s the way to spread the wealth or lack of.

EDITOR’S NOTE: D-64 seems to negotiate with itself. PREA and the administrators make ridiculous demands and then sit back and watch the bumblers fall all over themselves figuring out how to keep the other guys happy. And because these “negotiations” are held in secret, the taxpayers don’t even get any entertainment value for the money they pay.

I would urge everyone who reads the above to make sure to click on the link provided by PD.

The motion to go into closed session (1/14) was made by Heyde and seconded by…..guess who?!?!!? Dr. Paterno!!! The vote was 7-0. That means Borrelli and Paterno voted to go into closed session. It appears there was not even a hint or a comment about transparency or “does it really need to be in closed session??”

It would appear twitter has him so worked up about common core (2 editorials) that he is ignoring the basics of what people thought he was going to be…..like a fiscal conservative or someone who was for transparency.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We believe you mean the 01.15.14 meeting.

He sure fooled us, but the best choice last April – Ben Seib – was relatively new to the community, didn’t have kids that could be leveraged, and was a legit “fiscal conservative. So he scared the bejeesus out of the D-64 establishment.

Clearly I picked the wrong career path! Who knew a perch in D64’s upper ranks was so lucrative?

This person’a salary and benefits go way beyond what the position merits. I propose this person write in and tell us why she is ‘worth it’. But we all know that will never happen.

EDITOR’S NOTE: She’s “worth it” because the boneheads on the D-64 Board have agreed to pay her that amount. One of the downsides of capitalism: privatizing the rewards while socializing the costs.

Meanwhile, the educational quality – as objectively measured by the ISATs – stagnates.

Accountability, accountability, accountability….

EDITOR’S NOTE: There hasn’t been any since at least 1997, so what makes you think it will suddenly materialize with this crew?

I’m stunned by this. $212,000 for an elementary school business manager who is nothing special based on everything I’ve been able to Google! What is wrong with this school board?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Where do you wish to start? An almost-religious veneration of teachers and administrators? A deep-seated aversion to accountability? An unnatural passion for secrecy? Borderline contempt for the taxpayers? Addiction to OPM?

Isn’t this the same person who cannot or will not explain exactly what is included in fees charged parents?

Can I please have some of whatever the board is smoking?

EDITOR’S NOTE: One and the same.

The scary thing is that the Board seems to be acting purely “on the natch.” Drunk or drugged would at least provide an explanation.

OK, you’re right, but let’s put this in perspective, given that private firms of all kinds are vendors to us, the taxpayers, through our public employees who put out RFPs, bids and what-all. In America today, the top 1% owns 38% of our country’s financial wealth. The bottom 60% owns 2.3%. In the last several years, 95% of all new income has gone to the top 1%. In 2012 the top 40 hedge fund managers in the country earned $16.7 billion dollars, as much as 300,000 public school teachers combined — almost a third of all high school teachers in America.

Our public sector employees may not be brilliant, but they can read the same stats the rest of us can.

EDITOR’S NOTE: What’s your point? The private sector folks making those big dollars (earned income, not capital gains and dividends) take on major risks and are rewarded for success, while public employees take on no risks and tend to be rewarded for mere survival.

Let’s get real: if 99-44/100% of all public school teachers could do what Ken Griffin of Citadel did to earn his $4 Billion, they wouldn’t be teaching. Instead, however, they accept the risk-free teaching job with the guaranteed pension, and then sucker clueless elected officials into paying them enough money to put them in the Top 15-20% – well ahead of most taxpayers who pay their salaries.

And then there are bureaucrats like Allard who get pushed well into the Top 5% (and the Top 10% even in retirement)!

If I am a business owner and I have a good lawyer and good financial advisors and my business goes bankrupt….exactly what is my risk???

If I am a CEO (making major bucks) and my company tanks…..what is my risk??

Don’t get me wrong. I agree with the general thrust of this thread…..transparency and watching the taxpayers money. But I am sick of the whole risk thing.

All major assets are in the wife’s name and money is legally protected in various ways……risk?????

EDITOR’S NOTE: On one level you answered your own question because there is virtually NO “risk” of D-64 going bankrupt or tanking.

If you’re a D-64 teacher or adminstrator, what is the risk of D-64 moving to Indiana, or Mexico? What is the risk of it losing its captive market? What is your risk of being fired, or laid off, or getting your hours increased and/or your pay cut because revenues are down?

Now, want to talk constitutionally guaranteed defined benefit pension v. 401(k)?

How’s that Kool-Aid?

EDITOR’S NOTE: What “Kool-Aid”?

Seems to me most of that private sector “risk” was with OPM, and we — those stupid OP — bailed them out, bigtime. And they took the gelt to the hot tubs and whorehouses of the Caribbean, as I recall. Laughing all the way. Tried to get a bank loan for a small biz since then? No? Hm.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Most of that private sector ‘risk'” did NOT get “bailed out.” Only a few highly-favored industries got that benefit.

And every time our elected officials hand out another round of across-the-board raises to our public employees without any measurable increases in productivity or efficiency, those employees are also getting “bailed out” with OPM. Without any “risk.”

Well done PD!!! You danced over my whole point and failed to answer any of my questions. I never claimed that teachers have more risk or that business people have zero risk.

You gave (as do many others) risk as this reason these people make huge bucks. You said “major risk”. The truth is that many of these business owners and CEO’s are completely insulated against risk. Many run a business into the crapper and walk away with HUGE bucks.

I have no problem with a business owner or a CEO reaping big rewards. They deserve it. But do not sell this line about “major risk”.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Anybody who’s worth $10 million or more (and maybe even less than that) where their net worth isn’t tied up entirely in the value of their business is pretty immune to life’s economic vagaries.

But even the jillionaires, if they are self-made, usually have had some period of their lives when they took the kind of major risks that $212,000/year bureaucrats never even considered. And most of them, who are still earning those big bucks, have far more results to show for it than the $212,000/year bureaucrats.

By the way, you completely changed the argument. No other poster brought up mid-level or manufacturing workers. The original post you replied to was about top 1%.

Now you bring in the risk of people losing jobs because a plant moves to Mexico. That is not who 12:34 was posting about. He/she was posting about the top 1%. In the scenario you describe (plant moving to mexico) many would lose jobs but the CEO, who made the decision to move, might make a killing by the stock going up on assumptions about lower costs. The board of directors would probably give them an even better compensation package the next year. Even if it failed and they were eventually let go it would be with a separation package that would make your eyes roll. Even if they get fired they can hit the beach.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Just because the comment we replied to may have been about the top 1% doesn’t prevent us from comparing apples to apples – in this case the Top 5% private sector wage earners who are “at risk” on a daily basis versus a Top 5% public sector wage earner like Allard who live and work virtually risk-free.

PD:

You can do what ever you want……it’s your blog!! Just don’t act as if you have madae any headway in the discussion.

I do not speak for the original poster, but I have no argument with you about a 5 percenter. Does a 200k VP at a bank or a manufacturing company have more risk than the topic of your original post???? Of course!!!!!!! I would bet the original poster would agree with that as well.

The problem is that that is not what the original post that started this whole discussion stated. He/She was not talking about the 5 per enters.

What I find so funny is you admit you agree with me. You stated “Anybody worth 10mil…is pretty immune….”. That is all I was saying in my posts. The one per enters have lawyers and business advisors who help shield them fom any risk. You agree.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Anon: We never assume we have made headway with stupid people, or with people who submit multiple comments posing as different “anonymous” commentators.

The “original” anonymous commentator (02.20.14 @ 12:34 pm) tried to use class-warfare terms/symbols – “the top 1%” and the “top 40 hedge fund managers” – to turn the discussion away from a profligate School Board deliberating in secret to grossly overpay a mediocre bureaucrat who was already in the “Top 5%,” and who might remain within or within hailing distance of that Top 5% even in retirement, compliments of Illinois taxpayers.

The anon’s above changing the subject to CEO’s and Hedge Fund Managers have successfully used the “look over there, nothing to see here” strategy that works for public employee unions.

What does one perceived inequality or injustice have to do with an unsuccessful PUBLIC business manager (administrator, paper pusher)? Nothing at all. What’s the next argument, why should Basketball players make more than fireman? If you dare mention anything about schools, the liberal hacks who want more and more money in the system for unions, will jump in with the fricken (bipartisan) bank bailout or millionaire talk.

Any pro-union voter or public school parent (who loves my money) should be as up in arms as anyone, about wasting $100k on overpayment Mrs. Allard. It uses money that should go to teach children or for capital improvements. You know all the crying I hear about teachers buying supplies for their classes? Well, $100K would go a long way to getting those finger puppets or whatever.

D64 parents are the reason we can’t ever elect a cost-conscious majority board. They vote, they are loud and they elect their own (Vicki Lee). These people seem to be glorified “after school gossipers” more than they are elected officials. They have no guts to stand up for taxpayers against other parents in the after-school line.

Let’s compare a couple responses: Meh test scores? Silent. Overpaying a new supt.? Silence. However, you take away a 5th grade field trip and they come out in full force. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-02-14/news/ct-district-64-outdoor-education-nnw-tl-0220-2-20140214_1_program-64-parents-first-night

It is my belief, that there is no way to ever make public schools accountable. They have unions and user parents, more money and more organization. The worst part is, public school parents seem more than happy with mediocrity, as long as education is free to them.

If Paterno seems scared of parents, there must be something we don’t’ know about that goes on behind the scenes. Or maybe it was just another case of voters being fooled.

PD – Thanks for the article, but D64 will always be a taxpayer sucking, MEH producing school district. We appreciate you at least giving the voters good info.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We generally agree with you, but take issue with two of your points.

1. It’s not just “the liberal hacks” who are willing to spend OPM like drunken sailors on shore leave for their or their kids’ perceived benefit, however mediocre it might be. There are plenty of loud and proud alleged “conservatives” who are willing to do the exact same thing while beefing about Obamacare and increasing the minimum wage.

2. There IS a way “to ever make public schools accountable,” but it requires the taxpayers to pay a lot more attention and to scrutinize our schools with the INFERENCE (and, given how secretive D-64 is, perhaps even a PRESUMPTION) that: (a) they are paying Escalade prices for an Explorer education; and (b) their elected officials are not only letting it happen but are aiding and abetting it.

Wow…I just now read the article posted via link by “Meh” in the previous comment. I don’t know what is more amazing…that people took the time to go to a school board meeting to complain about a shorter outdoor education field trip…or that NO ONE ever shows up to discuss budget matters.

Click and read, folks: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-02-14/news/ct-district-64-outdoor-education-nnw-tl-0220-2-20140214_1_program-64-parents-first-night

EDITOR’S NOTE: Is that sarcasm, FWT? If not, don’t overlook the fact that the only people who took the time to show up and beef about the field trip were affected parents beefing as affected parents, not as shortchanged taxpayers.

And as we pointed out in a note to a previous comment, D-64’s Minister of Propaganda & Disinformation Bernadette Tramm’s favorite trick for discouraging participation is to roll the documentation for every Board agenda item, issue and action item into one big (185 pages is not uncommon) pdf that prevents a reader from quickly going to the specific matter he/she is seeking.

You last few commenters are real pieces of work. Mocking the fact that parents and students showed up to discuss/support/protest a piece of the fifth grade curriculum? Yes, it’s a “field trip” (also apparently worthy of scorn) but that’s hardly the point.

These students and parents care about what’s happening inside the schools. But since scores aren’t up to your standards you think the only topic worthy of discussion is maximizing tax dollars? You poor, poor, victimized taxpayers, so quick to point the fingers at everyone else in the world who’s to blame for your woes. Why aren’t you standing up at any meetings instead of anonymously complaining on blogs?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Seriously? A decade (or more) of stagnant, mediocre test scores at D-64 and the possibly-related decline of scores and rankings at Maine South and you seriously think parents showing up to beef about the cancellation of a fifth grade field trip is an all-in commitement to better education?

By that standard, those parents refusing to pay $200-$300 of fees while each of their kids gets a $13,000 education for the $3-4,000 the parents pay in annual real estate taxes to D-64 are committed to fiscal responsibility.

I wasn’t posing as a different poster; I closed out and then had an additional comment to make. Haven’t you ever done that? Don’t always, always assume nefariousness, dear PubPup.

EDITOR’S NOTE: When it comes to local government (and state government, and federal government) we ALWAYS presume “nefariousness” or stupidity; and, sadly, we are rarely surprised. So until you want to stop hiding under a cloak of anonymity, those are the only two choices we offer for all you and-one-more-thing commentators.

See? I’m doing it again already. I think most people agree that administrators are way overpaid for the results for which they are responsible; that parents and taxpayers need to convey the results we expect, not assume “the professionals” know better; that test scores do matter and that a good teacher will achieve both student excellence and student inspiration and creative expression; and that school boards need to hold administrators accountable — I mean with their raises pegged to measurable performance achievements just as in the private sector — and that teachers should also be held responsible for results. That is unfair as hell in many poorer communities and ones with a lot of special needs children the parochial schools don’t have to take. But in Park Ridge, where school districts are very, very well taken care of in terms of resources, raises and parent support, we need to demand better. But the folks who countered your Romney-esque defense of mega-bucks for faux “risk” takers are right. Just because D64 emoployees take no “risk” doesn’t mean they don’t deserve rewards if they deliver the goods.

EDITOR’S NOTE: And if your bubbe had beytsim, she’d be your zaideh. If D-64 employees “deliver[ed] the goods” we wouldn’t be having all this quality time together.

As we noted in our 02.07.14 post about Laurie Heinz, if she could do all the things the Board claims she can “she will be worth every penny the D-64 taxpayers are paying her.” At least a decade of actual performance, however, suggests that complacent parents and inattentive taxpayers won’t demand it.

Dear 5th ward taxpayer:

I once went to a D-64 board meeting to ask about the budget. I was the only one who did. As I recall, the teachers contract was part of the budget agenda that evening, and there were many, many teachers there. No parents, no residents, no….taxpayers. Except me.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This editor went to a teachers contract approval meeting 3 or 4 contracts ago and there were 3 of us taxpayers there, surrounded by teachers. The members of that School Board, like the current one, didn’t understand that they owed the taxpayers – and NOT the teachers, the PREA, or the administrators – a duty of loyalty.



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