An article in the Chicago Tribune by reporters Lisa Black and Jeff Danna on the morning of the strike had this to say: “For the first time in the district’s history, teachers in Lake Forest High School District 115 went on strike after failing to reach an agreement over salaries during negotiations that ended just before midnight . . . Teachers set up a picket line in front of Lake Forest High School this morning, carrying yellow signs that read, “Lake Forest Teachers for a Fair contract.”
Although many citizen taxpayers became aware during the course of the strike that far from being “unfair,” the salaries and benefits of LFHS teachers were quite generous — some would say overly. It is not my intent to open old wounds, but transparency is necessary when called for, especially when it involves taxpayers.
Brian Costin, Director of Government Reform at the Illinois Policy Institute (Illinoispolicy.org), compiled the following chart published on Nov. 3, using the IIRC database (iirc.niv.edu), that shows the average 2012 salaries for teachers in school districts that experienced recent labor unrest.
|School District||Average teacher salary|
|Lake Forest CHSD 115 (went on strike)||$107,172|
|Barrington District 220 (strike authorized)||$80,451|
|Geneva CUSD 304 (strike authorized)||$75,078|
|City of Chicago SD 299 (went on strike)||$74,990|
|Highland Park: North Shore SD 112 (went on strike)||$73,506|
|Evergreen Park ESD 124 (went on strike)||$64,095|
|Prairie Grove CSD 46 (went on strike)||$61,980|
|Carpentersville USD 300 (strike authorized)||$61,714|
|Grayslake CCSD 46 (strike authorized)||$57,358|
|Algonquin Consolidated SD 158 (strike authorized)||$56,532|
|Champaign CUSD 4 (strike authorized)||$55,185|
The Illinois Interactive Report Card Website (iirc.niv.edu) is a good site to file away for reference, as it provides a number of key statistics for every public school district in Illinois, including average teacher salary.
Here is another useful site to find the average salaries at Illinois school districts.
Although the IIRC website doesn’t include other high-cost compensation items such as health care and pension benefits, looking at salaries is a good starting point for understanding teacher compensation costs that must be borne by local taxpayers. It’s also an easy way for every taxpayer to know how much the average teacher salary is in their own school district and how their school ranks with other schools in the states. This is especially important when it comes time to negotiate collective bargaining agreements. For the next negotiations, which will take place in three years, the public should keep a watchful eye on information such as this. The board should also have a better plan in place than to wait for a strike to occur at the beginning of the school year. A “lock out” upon contract expiration in June would have far less of an adverse impact on the students, making it easier for the Board to stand up for fiscal responsibility.
But this isn’t the end of the story. Bill Zettler, author of “Illinois Pension Scam” and Director of Research at the Family Taxpayers Foundation, recently shared with me a study he had done showing the percentage increase of salaries for each administrative staff member and teacher from 2009 to 2012. The total cost to taxpayers to fund both basic Lake Forest High School teacher and administrative salaries rose from $11,947,456 in 2009 to $13,463,111 in 2012. Zettler’s information was complied from the following website, which is an excellent source for locating “Teacher and Administrator Salary Base” information in schools throughout Illinois. www.familytaxpayers.org/
The highest jumps in salaries were among the administrative staff, but teachers also fared well. The salary of the Assistant District Superintendent went from $173,355 in 2009 to $206,469 in 2012. A high school Calculus teacher’s salary jumped from $133,368 in 2009 to $158,843 in 2012. Few teachers ranged below 10% in salary spikes. Common were 13% to 22% hikes in salaries from 2009 – 2012, a time of a sharp loss in property values and wealth.
As reported at an October #115 board meeting when the 2013 budget was discussed, it was announced that the biggest outlay in the 2013 budget is for administrative and teacher salaries. http://www.lfhs.pxxq.com/D115%20BOE.pdf
With the new four-year contract approved and ratified by District 115 board and the LFEA after a seven day strike ended on Sept. 19, whipped cream can now be added as a topping to what were already Lake Forest High School salaries that were far above the average received by high school teacher in Illinois. www.dailyherald.com/article/20120919/news/709199896/
Although the district 115 School Board held the line somewhat, the salary portion of the negotiations included a 2.7% average increase in its first year and a 3.8% increase in the second year. Increases for the third and fourth years are based upon a formula tied to the consumer price Index, but the estimated raises are 3.6% and 2.4% for years three and four respectively. Health insurance benefits largely looks similar to the previous contract, with HMO and PPO family premium splits of 90/10%. Contract Details
Not bad at all when many are losing their jobs in the communities whose children attend Lake Forest High School, or perhaps must take cuts in their salaries, or maybe even lose their healthcare coverage as Obamacare kicks in and employers can no longer afford to pay for employee healthcare coverage.