When is a freeze not a freeze? Apparently, it is when District 97 takes the temperature.
In preparation for the tax-increase referendum, the school board announced with great fanfare that the union had agreed to a pay freeze for the 2011-2012 school year. The school board president, who presumably is the one scouring the budget to ensure that the tax increase will be as small as necessary in these strapped times, lavished praise on the union for making a great "sacrifice." Now it seeps out that raises of up to 4 percent will go to teachers retiring in three or four years; these increases will factor into their pensions. We've been told that pension sweeteners are a thing of the past, and the board says these special exemptions from the "freeze" have nothing to do with pensions. I am curious, then, why this was not openly acknowledged when the freeze was announced. The so-called freeze also does not apply to the increases teachers get for amassing credits in graduate education, which Bill Gates has recently argued have no demonstrable effect on the effectiveness of the teacher amassing them.
We all want great schools and pay good teachers well, but it is troubling that District 97 was less than transparent in painting its picture of frugality.