Saturday, May 20, 2006

No Fairmont referendum, no raise

Did this school district actually get it right? Only time will tell. Time and time again we see that they may not give out raises but in exchange will hand out more sick time which ends up costing taxpayers more in the end. Read between the lines. They will only hold off raises until a referendum passes. Langon is full of hooey. "Langon recommended the pay raises amid an effort to keep the district competitive." Please this is nothing more than the ratchet game that the Illinois Association of School Administrators plays to ratchet up salaries across Illinois. The following article appeared in the Herald News newspaper.

Fairmont referendum, no raises
Increases for staff: Board rejects hikes in wake of deficit

By Tony Graf

LOCKPORT TOWNSHIP — Fairmont school leaders rejected pay raises for the superintendent, principal and numerous other employees this week.

The school district is facing a longstanding deficit around $700,000, and the board had to make tough decisions during
its Wednesday meeting, said board member Bradley Johnson.
Some want the board to tighten its belt, particularly because a November referendum is possible.

"What we did tonight, we did because we need to get a referendum passed," said board member Richard Myers.

The board rejected 5 percent pay increases for:
• Doris Langon, superintendent, to $133,755, along with a $400-per-month travel stipend;
• Stephanie Long, principal, to $92,495; and
• Teacher aides, secretaries, custodians and lunchroom hostesses.

Langon recommended the pay raises amid an effort to keep the district competitive.

"The district is making an effort to recruit highly qualified teachers and administrators, and to remain competitive to retain those individuals to improve the district," she said.

"You have to have highly qualified people — that's NCLB," she said, referring to the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

"I understand the dilemma the board is in, but we are showing improvement," Langon said.

Langon is asking for a special board meeting to determine the board's direction on salaries.

A possible November referendum, which the board will address next month, would follow voters' rejection of this spring's ballot proposal.

Fairmont leaders want voters' permission to transfer about $1.6 million in debt from one district fund to another. The move is not expected to increase the tax rate.

In 2001, the state had $4.6 million available for a construction project on the Fairmont campus. But in order to get that money, Fairmont had to come up with $1.6 million locally.

So Fairmont issued a bond, borrowing $1.6 million. The board didn't ask voters to issue that bond, so the money is being paid out of the district's education fund, which funds teacher salaries, supplies and other expenses for school operations.

This means Fairmont has about $140,000 less every year in the educational fund.

The plan is to move the debt from the education fund to the bond and interest fund.

This won't increase the tax rate, because another debt has been paid off in the bond and interest fund, Johnson said.

The move essentially would free up more money in the education fund for educational uses.


Friday, May 19, 2006

Did you know? Age of retirement for teachers.

Age Retirement Annuity
A member is eligible to receive a monthly retirement annuity when he or she terminates active service covered by TRS and meets the following age and service requirements:
• age 62 with 5 years of service, or
• age 60 with 10 years of service, or
• age 55 with 20 years of service (discounted annuity), or
• age 55 with 35 years of service.*
* If the member is eligible to receive a retirement benefit of at least 74.6 percent of the final average salary and will reach age 55 between July 1 and December 31, he or she will be considered to have attained age 55 on the preceding June 1.

The retirement benefit is calculated by applying a statutory formula based on average salary and years of service. The salary used in the calculation is the average of the creditable earnings in the highest four consecutive years within the last 10 years of creditable service. For post-June 1998 service, this average salary is multiplied by 2.2 percent for each year of service.

For service earned before July 1998 that is not upgraded (see below), the average salary is multiplied by the applicable percentage according to the following formula:

1.67% for each of the first 10 years, plus

1.90% for each of the second 10 years, plus

2.10% for each of the third 10 years, plus

2.30% for each year over 30.

Source Illinois Government.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Post-retirement Increases for Teachers and Administrators.

Post-retirement Increases
Annuitants annually receive 3 percent increases in their annuities. The first annuity increase occurs on January 1 following the first anniversary in retirement or the attainment of age 61, whichever is later. The first increase includes 3 percent for each year the member has been in retirement.

Source State of Illinois government.

Did you know teachers and adminstrator assocations oppose reform of the social security system?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Reciprocity in teachers pensions.

TRS is one of 13 Illinois public pension systems covered by the Illinois Retirement Systems Reciprocal Act [40 ILCS 5/20]. The Reciprocal Act allows one or more years of service credit earned through any reciprocal retirement system to be counted toward retirement. Each system pays a portion of the retirement benefits. The member generally receives a higher total retirement benefit by retiring under the Reciprocal Act than by retiring independently through each system. The reciprocal systems are:
• Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Illinois
• County Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund of Cook County
• Forest Preserve District Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund of Cook County
• General Assembly Retirement System
• Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund
• Judges’ Retirement System
• Laborers’ Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago
• Municipal Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago
• Park Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago
• Public School Teachers’ Pension and Retirement Fund of Chicago
• Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Retirement Fund
• State Employees’ Retirement System of Illinois
• State Universities Retirement System

Source Illinois State government.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Do you know the unfunded liability of the TRS.

As of Fiscal Year 2005 the unfunded liability of the teachers retirement system is almost 22 billion dollars.


This liability must be meant by the 12,419,293 residents of Illinois as per the Illinois constitution.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Tax increase on the way

The following letter to the editor appeared in the Northwest Herald.
The letter speaks for itself.

Well, the elections are over and McHenry District 15 now has the tax increase it wanted, "For the kids."

But wait, the teacher's contract ends this year.

Maybe we can add another step to the pay scale. How much can we increase our pay - 4, 5, 6 percent - the sky's the limit.

After all, we helped pass the referendum so we deserve something.

Maybe we should only ask for a one-year contract and a small 1 or 2 percent increase to make it look good to the public.
Then, next year we can ask for any percent we want, because the public doesn't have much of a long-term memory anyhow.

The spending already has begun.

Teachers, learning center directors and band directors are being hired.

Remember it was your choice to pass this referendum.

Wait until you get your tax bill. This year won't be too bad - but the shock of future bills is on the way.
Janice Jettner

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Truth Behind the "Teacher Shortage"

The below article was originally posted in the Wall Street Journal.

The Truth Behind the "Teacher Shortage"
By C. Emily Feistritzer

The teacher shortage "crisis" has been resurrected -- again. It seems every few years this issue is trotted out and used to get more money, more programs, more publicity, more political points -- all in the name of meeting the huge demand, now said to be two million new teachers in the next decade.

This time it's President Clinton who's doing the scaremongering. In his State of the Union address, he asked lawmakers to approve billions of dollars in federal aid, in part to help recruit and hire new teachers. Several members of Congress also have proposed their own expensive programs to ward off teacher shortages.

But before the additional billions are spent on scholarships and loan forgiveness programs to recruit millions of new teachers, many of whom will never find a teaching job, the administration and Congress need to look at some of the realities of so-called teacher crisis.

The nation has recently been hiring at the rate of two million "new" teachers per decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The National Center for Education Statistics projects that annual growth in the number of teachers needed will decline as the current enrollment surge gets through high school during the next decade. "We don't see anything that would indicate there will be general teacher shortages," says Daniel Hecker, a BLS economist.

The first problem with the claim that we'll need millions of new teachers is in what exactly "new" means. When most people hear those words, they think it means teachers who have never taught before. Well, that is not what it means.

An NCES analysis shows that, of the 139,000 "new" public school teachers hired in 1993-94 (the latest year for which data are available), 42% had just finished a college program and had never taught before. Twenty-four percent were doing something other than going to college the year before teaching but were teaching for the first time. The remaining 34% of "new" teachers were actually former teachers coming back into the profession. Six years ago, the figure was even higher: In 1987-88, 52% of the "new" teachers were re-entering the profession. "It is not clear how much of this shift was due to changes in the relative sizes of the supply pools and how much was due to the policy preferences of schools to hire first-time teachers at lower salaries," NCES analyst Mary Rollefson noted.

The largest teachers' union, the National Education Association, reported last year that of the 2.2 million people working as teachers in the academic year 1995-96, only 2.1% were teaching for the first time. Thus the nation is hiring -- and is projected to need to hire -- approximately 45,000 newly trained teachers per year. That is a far cry from the 200,000 the "crisis" proponents would have you believe.

Now, just how many newly minted teachers is the country already turning out each year?

Every year in this decade, colleges and universities have been awarding more than 100,000 bachelor's degrees in education, and the numbers continue to grow. There were more than six million people holding at least a bachelor's degree in education in the U.S. in 1993, according to the Census Bureau. What's more, only about three out of four current teachers have a bachelor's degree in education. In all, there are plenty of people who are fully qualified to teach who are not teaching: at least four million of them.

Numerous surveys of high school and college students indicate there is widespread interest in teaching as a career. If even a portion of the young people expressing an interest in teaching become teachers, the demand will more than be met. And that doesn't take into account the huge interest in teaching that older people have -- people with experience from other careers, early retirees from the military and other occupations, former teachers, people who have raised their children and now want to teach.

It is this huge potential work force that is most ill served by the current system -- from the ivory towers of the self-described experts on who is qualified to teach, to the colleges that are supposed to train teachers, to the state-level departments that are responsible for licensing them, to the schools that are ultimately responsible for hiring teachers. Anyone who wants to make more new teachers available can begin by dismantling this elaborate system, which locks out potentially highly qualified teachers while accrediting many who don't belong in the classroom.

But to claim that there is a teacher shortage is simply wrong -- there isn't one, and there won't be anytime soon. One has to wonder about the agenda of someone who's willing to claim otherwise.

Are Teacher Unions the Fourth Branch of Government?

The following piece was taken in part from the Education Intelligence Agency to view the rest of the piece click here.

In Illinois, Gov. Rod Blagojevich is under fire for consulting with the Illinois Education Association (IEA) and the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) while crafting his school oversight plan. He didn’t, however, consult with legislators or state education officials. “I can’t bring a check to the table,” state Superintendent of Instruction Robert Schiller told the Chicago Tribune. The governor’s plan would strip power from the state board of education and place it in the hands of a new agency under the governor’s control. The unions held a news conference to express their support for the idea.
Arguing over the relative merits of each of these proposals is part of the democratic process. But who gave Barbara Kerr, Paul Hubbert and the IEA/IFT officials the right to negotiate state policy? If Gov. Schwarzenegger announced a budget proposal after negotiations with WalMart, people would be upset. If Lockheed held meetings with Alabama legislators and then announced a list of corporate tax breaks it desired, voters would be outraged. Gov. Blagojevich’s predecessor was indicted for steering state business to his friends and associates.