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Back room collective bargaining deal leaves Aptakisic-Tripp taxpayers in the dark

Citizens should have the ability to be an integral part of the collective bargaining process; after all, we are the ones paying the bills.

by Brian Costin, Director of Government Reform at the Illinois Policy Institute

I’ve been bamboozled.

That’s exactly what I thought after I finally got the chance to look at the new teacher contract for my local school district, Aptakisic-Tripp School District 102, this week.

You see, way back on Dec. 17, 2012, the district voted unanimously to approve a new collective bargaining process. Two days later the board announced it had reached an agreement with the local teachers union for average salary increases of 3.75 percent for each of three school years starting in 2013-2014. 

However, when I finally had the opportunity to examine the contract, I found that many teachers in the district would be receiving annual raises of between 4.5 and 6 percent a year. And that number doesn’t even include lane changes – financial incentives that come with increased education levels – which will reward teachers with even bigger raises.

Though the board approved the contract on Dec. 17, 2012, the first time the document was made available to the public was Jan. 23, 2013 – a 38-day lag time.

Every taxpayer in District 102 should be insulted at the lack of transparency and openness during the collective bargaining agreement, or CBA, negotiation process. Citizens should have the ability to be an integral part of the collective bargaining process; after all, we are the ones paying the bills. 

Every time the administration or the union proposes a CBA, the public should be able to examine and openly discuss the merits of the proposal with the administration, elected board and union representation for the teachers.

Even more insulting than the lack of transparency is the district’s misleading announcement that the new contract “provides average salary increases of 3.75 percent.” Apparently, the local providers of public education believe the citizens they serve can’t do math.

I examined three different teacher scenarios to understand the actual salary increases as outlined by the new contract.

Here’s what I found:

  • A new teacher with one year of experience and a bachelor’s degree will have an average annual salary increase of 4.54 percent during the course of the new contract; 4.75 on a compounded basis.
  • A mid-career teacher with 14 years of experience and a master’s degree will have an average annual salary increase of 5.07 percent; 5.34 percent on a compounded basis.
  • A teacher retiring in 2015-2016 with 30 years of experience and master’s degree plus 30 hours of additional education, will have an average annual salary increase of 6 percent per year, due to a “retirement benefit” provision in the contract; and 6.37 percent per year on a compounded basis. 

New teacher

Calendar year

Experience

CBA salary

Salary increase %

Cumulative salary increase

2012-2013

1

$40,150

N/A

N/A

2013-2014

2

$41,911

4.39%

4.39%

2014-2015

3

$43,823

4.56%

9.15%

2015-2016

4

$45,869

4.67%

14.24%

Annual Average

4.54%

4.75%

Mid-career teacher

Calendar year

Experience

CBA salary

Salary increase %

Cumulative salary increase

2012-2013

14

$73,977

N/A

N/A

2013-2014

15

$77,619

4.92%

4.92%

2014-2015

16

$81,577

5.10%

10.27%

2015-2016

17

$85,821

5.20%

16.01%

Annual Average

5.07%

5.34%


Retiring teacher

Calendar year

Experience

CBA salary

Salary increase %

Cumulative salary increase

2012-2013

27

$106,120

N/A

N/A

2013-2014

28

$112,487

6.00%

6.00%

2014-2015

29

$119,236

6.00%

12.36%

2015-2016

30

$126,391

6.00%

19.10%

Annual Average

6.00%

6.37%

Post Retirement Award

30

$30,0000



The 6 percent salary increases in the final four years of a retiring teacher’s salary is due to the district’s “retirement benefit” provision. The “retirement benefit” provision is another name for “pension spiking.”  

With pension spiking, districts all over the state raise teacher salaries to the maximum extent allowed under the law. This results in much higher pension incomes for retired teachers at the expense of the taxpayers. Additionally, pension spiking hurts the state’s Teachers’ Retirement System, or TRS – and TRS is currently only 42.1 percent funded; one of the worst funding rates in the entire country.

District 102’s new contract also provides for a “post-retirement award” equal to $1,000 for every year of service to the district. 

Add a $30,000 “post-retirement award” to the retiring teacher scenario above and the final year salary is equal to $156,391, an astounding 31.1 percent increase over the previous year. Luckily, this retirement perk is not used in the calculation of an employee’s pension.

Additionally, the new contract has lots of other perks and benefits in it, including:

  • A 182 day work year
  • 14 sick days and three personal business leave days
  • Maximum sick leave of up to 340 days
  • 7 ½ hour teacher work days 
  • Paid sabbatical leave granted at the discretion of the board
  • Health and dental insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Long-term disability insurance
  • Tuition reimbursement 

 

Being a resident, taxpayer and parent of a future student who will most likely go to District 102 schools, I would have loved the opportunity to be an active, educated participant in the collective bargaining negotiating process. 

Sadly, this problem isn’t isolated to District 102. This lack of transparency and misleading analysis of contract provisions is a scene being played out time and time again all over the state of Illinois. Statewide reforms are needed to give citizens the opportunity to directly participate in an open, transparent and accurately represented collective bargaining process. 

The time for passing a “Truth-in-Collective Bargaining Act” to address these issues is long overdue.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Recall Supporter January 30, 2013 at 02:50 PM
What a terrible review. I am happy to see my children's teacher make a decent living. Did you read this article and see how darn good our schools are in 102? http://buffalogrove.patch.com/articles/buffalo-grove-schools-named-to-state-academic-honor-roll You picked to live in D102 for academic reasons I would presume. You want you children to attend SHS, another award winning school. So are you really bothered to see them make a decent living? I know I am not. Have you been to a school board meeting before to voice this?
John L January 30, 2013 at 04:17 PM
Thank you for bringing this to light. While funding teachers may be a righteous cause, these figures must be hard to swallow of those in the community struggling to keep their homes out of foreclosure, in the face of decreased or disappearing incomes and rising taxes.
Abigail January 30, 2013 at 05:12 PM
Yes, Brian, thank you for bringing this to our attention. If these thieves realize we are watching them, maybe they will stop stealing our tax dollar.
Truthful John January 30, 2013 at 06:35 PM
Brian... good but incomplete coverage. You mentioned the two increase types -- longevity and lane change -- but your chart appears to cover only the longevity. I see no reason not to create lane changes, if and when they actually get an M.A. Interim lane changes for one quarter's course work at a time (and usually during the summer when they are on salary already) is ridiculous. The District should always measure Classroom improvement as a result of this boondoggle. You might as well check the records (probably have to get an FOIA act release) on the degrees your teachers possess. How many do have subject matter degrees as opposed to Education degrees with certificates to teach math, science or reading. We should be looking for the former in all our Districts, to make up the ground for the abysmal pass throughs to the High School District, the failure in course curriculum in the math based sciences which is probably responsible to our inability to interest students in math based careers such as engineering, putting the whole nation at risk in a 21st Century world economy.
Pete Speer February 12, 2013 at 09:27 PM
Recall Supporter: In case you hadn't realized it, the State Board of Education has seen fit to dumb down the standardized tests and normed up the results. You should check and see how many of your teacher have advanced degrees in he subject matter they purvey to the children. You might also want to ask for your High School District if they keep records on the graduates as they enter first year college -- how many are required to take remedial course work. Do you realize that these curses add to the total semesters necessary for a student to graduate atmuch greater expense to the family -- all because the K-12 system failed? Then you might want to find how U.S. Advanced Placement Courses in Physics and Math rank with AP courses in the high schools in western Europe and the Asian Tigers and India. I sat in a North Shore District meeting where a business owner complained that he had to retain New Trier graduates in the math necessary to be a cashier or stock boy.

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