Group planning to file lawsuit against District 97 referendum

Oak Park resident who opposed tax increase joins anti-tax group backing suit


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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

An anti-tax group based in Illinois is joining with an Oak Park resident who opposed District 97's April 5 referendum in filing a lawsuit against the school district concerning its ballot measure.

Taxpayers United of America will file the suit with the Cook County Circuit Court. Oak Park resident Noel Kuriakos, a leading opponent of the referendum, will be a plaintiff in the suit. Kuriakos confirmed his involvement in the suit last Friday with Wednesday Journal. His group, Citizens Alliance of Oak Park, formed early this spring to oppose the district's rate hike referendum, which recently passed.

The suit will be filed by Friday April 22, said Christina Tobin, vice president of Taxpayers United of America. The basis for the suit is the ballot language itself, which came under scrutiny weeks before the election. Oak Park Township Assessor Ali ElSaffar, after studying the wording, maintained that the ballot wording understated how much property owners would actually pay in added taxes. ElSaffar is also president of the Cook County Township Assessors Association.

Kuriakos argues that the D97 school board was aware of that fact before approving the ballot wording, following the advice of its law firm, Chapman and Cutler, in allowing the potentially misleading language.

"The firm advised them to do this, and the board pushed back in questioning the accuracy of the ballot question, and the firm pushed back again and said this is the language that they should use," Kuriakos said. "Clearly, this is a strong indicator for us to move forward with the suit."

Tobin added that it was premature to talk about what the suit is looking to achieve because her group's attorney is still working on it. But she believes the suit has merit and will be successful.

Peter Traczyk, president of the school board, told Wednesday Journal that he was unaware of the pending suit until the paper contacted him about it.

"Anyone can bring a suit, but it doesn't mean that it has merit," he said.

D97's $6 million referendum won handily on April 5 by a 55 to 45 percent margin, or by a little more than 1,000 votes. But weeks before the election, an Oak Park resident unaffiliated with Kuriakos or his group questioned the actual ballot language. That resident contacted Wednesday Journal, which then contacted ElSaffar, who reviewed the ballot question and found that it understated the referendum's impact by a factor of three. The problem, he said, was not factoring in the state equalizer, which is used in the formula to calculate tax bills. Nearly a dozen other government agencies seeking a tax increase in the April 5 election used this same formula.

Chapman and Cutler, though, maintained that the equalizer was not included because it's not required, based on the state law governing how referendums should be written. The statute also includes a "safety clause" concerning possible errors that might appear on the ballot that are unintentional.

Traczyk said he believes the district is protected by the safety clause. Tobin, however, isn't sure.

"If they are confident that it was done unintentionally, then I am confident that it was definitely done intentionally," she said. "The ballot didn't tell the truth, and ... this suit is to make sure that misprints don't happen in the future."

Taxpayers United of America was founded in 1976 and was previously known as National Taxpayers United of Illinois. The recent name change coincides with the group's national expansion, Tobin said. The nonprofit has long opposed local, state and federal tax increases.

Reader Comments

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D97 Teacher  

Posted: April 26th, 2011 9:00 AM

@Parent - Regarding your comment about outdated books and books in short supply at Julian. The District went to an 8-year purchasing cycle about 6 years ago due to budget concerns. That means some books may have not yet been replaced and could be over 8 years old. Also, every book adoption since 2006 has included eTexts rather than take-home books to save money. Students can access the books online at home or on any computer. There are extra books for those without computer access, too.

Parent with child in school from Oak Park  

Posted: April 25th, 2011 2:44 PM

I have a child at Julian. The teachers there are great. Books are somewhat outdated and there are not enough of the books for kids to bring home. I would much rather propse kids purchasing their own supplies (inluding books) versus the school deciding on how to make expenditures. I would vote against this referendum 2nd time around (I didn't vote 1st time)

Teacher Hater  

Posted: April 21st, 2011 10:15 AM

Why do people move here, in spite of the taxes? People are motivated to provide their families and themselves with a safe, clean and literate living environment. People want a quality educational experience without having to pay private school tuition. The schools in OP and RF are very good, despite the anecdotal examples. The high school has one of the best composite ACT scores in the state. However, once people read about the lousy and overpaid teachers they will flee. Damn teachers!

OP Parent  

Posted: April 21st, 2011 9:13 AM

Right: Mr/Ms Idiot poses a loaded question, full of faulty premises. Of the "When did you stop beating your wife?" ilk.

Carol from Oak Park  

Posted: April 21st, 2011 9:07 AM

OH NO!! Yes voters commenting on this post aren't stepping up to defend an argument that I'm pretending they made! The voices in my head are speaking volumes about it! And they're demanding that keyboard warriors everywhere rise up and denounce this outrage as fast as their cheeto-stained fingers can type!


Posted: April 20th, 2011 7:26 PM

It was an idiotic question. Was that your point?


Posted: April 20th, 2011 7:09 PM

Just stopped by to note that while I see a lot of holier-than-thou blahblahblah, as well as an outright lie irrelevantly offered as an excuse, no one from the YES camp has yet bothered to answer the pertinent question put forward below. That speaks volumes.

To Terry Dean  

Posted: April 20th, 2011 5:53 PM

Terry, if you get a chance to talk to Christina Tobin again, ask her why she's thinking of moving to a village which has one of the highest property tax base in the Cook County. Some thing seems a little off with that statement.


Posted: April 20th, 2011 4:23 PM

If you don't mind my asking, why did you move to OP if the taxes were so much higher?


Posted: April 20th, 2011 3:37 PM

Bottom line - Schools cost way too much in OP in taxes. Yet their performance is NOT good. I voted yes, because of the threats on the arts. However, D97 needs to go farther to get rid of bad teachers and wasteful spending. I would have no issue paying the high taxes if we got quality elementary schools. BTW - I moved to OP from Chicago where both houses had nearly identical assessed values by the county. Chicago tax = 3200/year Oak Park tax = 20,500/year

OP resident for now...  

Posted: April 19th, 2011 6:07 PM

@Mann Parent - What's the correlation. Doesn't everyone have the right to provide extra-curricular activities for their child? Given the state of the "gifted" programs in OP, I would encourage it. I bet you are a neighbor on Noel's since you know his routine.

Carol from Oak Park  

Posted: April 19th, 2011 5:00 PM

@ih8 - perhaps one of the reasons no one has responded to the "greedy" query is because no one called the OP no voters greedy. The post that she is referring to (I think) does call the outside group Taxpayers United greedy, but they have no direct connection to Oak Park, and thus have no clear motivation for this lawsuit.


Posted: April 19th, 2011 4:58 PM

The Citizens Alliance of Oak Park member list will soon be out as public information. Unfortunately the members will be outed with this lawsuit whether they like it or not. So much for Noel keeping the members private. Very disappointing.


Posted: April 19th, 2011 4:55 PM

Well, he's in triblocal again. Maybe he's planning 2 lawsuits against the district. Any no people that speak to him, help him please, with understanding what's the good fight and just what is annoying.

Carollina Song from Oak Park  

Posted: April 19th, 2011 4:33 PM

It's also worth noting (as discussed at the forums) that built into D97's assumptions when sizing the referendum was that it would have to bend the cost curve downwards & continue to make cuts every year. I have a question, though: how much in taxpayer $$ will D97 have to spend to defend itself against this lawsuit? Those are $$ that won't be available to fund education.

Carollina Song from Oak Park  

Posted: April 19th, 2011 4:27 PM

@ih8-Unfortunately, you must have missed the referendum forums at Beye, Mann, Hatch, Irving, Lincoln, and Holmes, where this (and many other questions) were discussed at length. SEOPCO (which co-hosted the forum at Irving) still has a link to the discussion that evening. You ask about shared sacrifice. It's worth noting that first-year teachers making $42K voted overwhelmingly for a salary freeze that cost them more than the referendum increase on a house with a $20K tax bill.

OP Mom  

Posted: April 19th, 2011 4:24 PM

I would think that both No and Yes voters would be frustrated at having their tax dollars wasted answering a pointless lawsuit. (which, as far as I can tell, should have been taken to Cook County, not to one of the many school districts who just followed the county's statute.) It is my understanding (and I hope the WJ will write to clarify on this topic) that no matter what, the ref. results stand. What an enormous waste of money.


Posted: April 19th, 2011 4:11 PM

It's speaks volumes that not a single YES supporter has bothered to answer the simple question put forth below: "How am I being greedy when I have given up most of my disposable income for your children, but only ask for a new fiscal strategy with some shared sacrifice?" Instead the YES crowd continues to malign and belittle those in less fortunate financial circumstances than they. That is what Oak Park has become.

Carollina Song from Oak Park  

Posted: April 19th, 2011 4:05 PM

@Mann Parent-I missed your comment the when it was first posted. I just wanted to say that it would be preferable not to comment on Mr. Kuriakos' parenting choices. One certainly can disagree w/ the idea of filing a lawsuit to express dissatisfaction with the outcome of an election, but it would be better to leave Mr. Kuriakos' family out of it. They deserve their privacy.


Posted: April 19th, 2011 8:19 AM

Next time anyone wins an election/referendum around here, please remind them to wear one of those sad masks of tragedy so people will believe they are sad and mournful. Also, make sure they aren't in a local restaurant, helping out local businesses and adding to the tax coffers.

Oak Park Parent from Oak Park  

Posted: April 19th, 2011 4:51 AM

For all you liberals out there that got snow-balled. Please print your name and address so I can send my new tax bill to you. For those who say to just sell your house if you don't like it. I can't you morons because the taxes are to high. Duh!!! And to see the School people at the bar hooping it,they should have used a little more tact. You would have thought they won the super bowl. Please, this is going to take money out of peoples pockets. Less food, less vacations, less spending in O.P.

OP Resident  

Posted: April 18th, 2011 6:02 PM

Wow! I haven't seen such pettiness since, well, I've never seen such pettiness. You should all go and get your blood sugar checked and if you're not diabetic, get a good therapist.


Posted: April 18th, 2011 2:09 PM

And thanks for the clarification of the $1k. I will cop to a bit of referendum fatigue and mistakenly thought you were talking about the larger figure the WJ cited before the correction, and which I think Mr. Kuriakos is suing the district about.


Posted: April 18th, 2011 2:05 PM

Jenny, I do take issue with your assessment of "most OPers" being "complacent" or not asking questions. Last election cycle seemed to be all about the questions, many of them from people who voted Yes. I also disagree that the district is spending money wastefully, even though that seems to be a meme that many No voters take on faith. Note that when I say "many No voters," I don't mean most No voters. It's what I read on this forum, which I know is not representative of the whole.

JennyWren from Oak Park  

Posted: April 18th, 2011 1:30 PM

@Parker-sorry I wasn't clear, but my taxes have risen almost $1,000/yr since I've lived in OP.I realize that the D97 increase will be just another $380 on my tax bill.And you needn't be so defensive, I'm not suggesting those who voted for the increase did not weigh the benefits vs. the negatives, but many OPers seem very complacent about budgets that exceed income year after year and wasteful spending.I was saying that it is not greediness to ask taxing bodies to live within current means.


Posted: April 18th, 2011 9:38 AM

Where do you get the $1,000 a year increase figure? And where on earth do you get the idea that people are voting yes without asking questions?

JennyWren from Oak Park  

Posted: April 18th, 2011 9:33 AM

I also don't see how your comments of 12:58 or 3:14 were "tarring" or "cheap shots". Even Cook County is reducing its budget by 16% to avoid a tax increase. On one hand OP wants to be diverse and inclusive, but on the other hand OP only wants that diversity to include folks who can take a $1000/yr tax increase without asking questions.

Carol from Oak Park  

Posted: April 18th, 2011 6:52 AM

Actually Tom, if you could just yell at me to get off your lawn now, I think that would finish things off nicely.

Tom Scharre  

Posted: April 17th, 2011 9:00 PM

I am simply doing what you are doing. Responding to the most recent post So, to take a statement at two points in time (both of which stand I behind) and suggest that it is some indictment of some universal group is simply faulty logic. But, because I know in your anonymity you must have the last word, I bequeath it to you You are right, I am wrong. You are moral, I am not. Your heart is pure, mine is tarnished.Your choice was good, mine was evil.Must I go on? Or can I leave it at cheers?

Carol from Oak Park  

Posted: April 17th, 2011 8:16 PM

Dear Tom, please see your own comments at 12:58 and 3:14 p.m. for samples of youself tarring everyone who voted yes. And thank you so much for confirming my suspicion that your "concerns" over civility were just an excuse to take your own cheap shots. Cheers!

Tom Scharre  

Posted: April 17th, 2011 7:37 PM

Carol, my neighbor. (I assume you are an Oak Park neighbor.) No, I do not think that mere disagreement is uncivil. Also, I am not a spokesman for the "NO" side, Nor do I know what "folks" you speak for who I allegedly "tar." If you would like to call me and discuss this heinous grievance on my part, I am easily found. Unlike you. In the meantime, I simply reiterate the obvious: what, exactly is wrong about having a referendum statute written that is free from ambiguity?:

JennyWren from Oak Park  

Posted: April 17th, 2011 7:14 PM

I don't understand the comments about United Taxpayers being "greedy" or anti-education.It is the right of taxpayers to ask taxing bodies to spend their money responsibly witin a budget. I have a managerial position in a nonprofit--take-home of less than $50K.When I first moved here I could afford 1/10 of my salary in taxes, now it's 1/5.How am I being greedy when I have given up most of my disposable income for your children, but only ask for a new fiscal strategy with some shared sacrifice.

Carol from Oak Park  

Posted: April 17th, 2011 7:12 PM

Mr. Scharre, while I appreciate your concern about civility, I would like to point out that although some comments may cross that line, for the most part, people are expressing their opinions. Unless you feel that mere disagreement is uncivil, I think that folks would appreciate it if you would refrain from tarring all yes voters with the same brush. Also, I would like to note that I have not noticed any concern about tone from you with respect to some equally nasty comments from the no side.

David Kindler from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 17th, 2011 5:30 PM

@ Planek, glad to hear you don't support Taxpayers United and this lawsuit. Sorry to imply you did.

Tom Scharre  

Posted: April 17th, 2011 5:17 PM

First, thank you your kind & polite response. Second, since I did not see the presentation at Irving I cannot respond. Third, to me this a much larger issue than the D97 referendum. This is about basic honesty. What is so difficult about writing a statute that requires our governing bodies to be completely forthright, so they cannot hide behind the cagey excuses of law firms whose motive is in their private interest vs. the public interest?

Mr. Sour Grapes from Oak Park  

Posted: April 17th, 2011 4:42 PM

Mr. Scharre - Actually, the referendum was not a slam dunk for me (and I'm sure many others). Indeed, I was skeptical initially, but ultimately concluded that a yes vote was in the best interests of both D97 schools and the community at large. Also,Noel K's presentation at the Irving forum was so full of misinformation and false accusations, it made my decision an easy one. I have no problem with folks who made the difficult decision to vote no ...but this lawsuit is just a really bad idea.

Tom Scharre  

Posted: April 17th, 2011 3:14 PM

Mr. or Mrs. Sour Grapes: no, actually, your presumption is incorrect. I do not know Mr. Noel Kuriakos or the group supporting this lawsuit. But, I do know that even though the supporters of the referendum had their victorious day in court, they cannot resist taunting, maligning, insulting and demonizing anyone who has the temerity to disagree with them. I find that sad. Perhaps you would call it Sour Grapes. Peace.

Sour Grapes Anyone? from Oak Park  

Posted: April 17th, 2011 1:43 PM

Mr. Scharre - I presume your cowardice reference is to the Vote No folks who apparently support this inane lawsuit, but opted not to step forward as plaintiffs?


Posted: April 17th, 2011 1:10 PM

Make no mistake, Mr. Kuriakos is loving the publicity. And I don't think his lawsuit has much to do with the concerns the majority of the No people have, many of whom seem to be moving away from him on the Group W bench.

Tom Scharre  

Posted: April 17th, 2011 12:58 PM

Such unkindness. Such anger. Such resentment. Such a sad legacy for a Village that claims tolerance & respect among its chief virtues. (Also, such cowardice, come forward if your beliefs can be defended.)

Sour Grapes Anyone? from Oak Park  

Posted: April 17th, 2011 12:51 PM

Well, this pretty much takes the cake. The article should dig a bit deeper into Taxpayers United and Tobin. Anyone paying attention during the referendum debate/discussion already knows what Mr. Kuriakos is all about. Interesting that folks so concerned about waste and inefficiency will now force the Board (and court system) to waste resources on this nonsense.

Huh? from Oak Park  

Posted: April 17th, 2011 8:09 AM

Dear PleaseReadTheArticle: What are you talking about? The article does not mention surety bonds. Surety bonds have nothing to do with a matter like this. They cover someone's failure to complete performance. Unless Chapman agreed to indemnify and defend D97 for its error (if it even made an error and that is doubtful), Chapman won't defend the matter. This is simply an act of an anti-government zealot who will tie up our officials and burn our tax dollars to continue his spiteful charge.


Posted: April 17th, 2011 1:05 AM

Well, lets congratulate Mr. Kuriakos on his new job. He has found his "calling". Forming a PAC means he can draw a salary. May all the die-hard Oak Park anti tax folks donate to this cause. Giving to Mr. K more of their hard earned dollars than to the village.

Tom Scharre  

Posted: April 16th, 2011 2:09 PM

According to WJ's own election reporting, the vote tally was YES: 6067, NO: 5084. That works to a winning margin of 983 votes, not over 1000. That also means that if 492 voters had been persuaded to vote No, the referendum would have been defeated. Which is a pretty slender reed upon which to base a "landslide." And an even slenderer reed to say that people who disagree are trying to tear apart our community. I respect the outcome. Please respect your neighbors who wished for a different result.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: April 16th, 2011 2:03 PM

Carol -- your comments on Taxpayer's United is on the mark. There are no good intents from that org. Their only motivation is greed.

Carol from Oak Park  

Posted: April 16th, 2011 1:05 PM

Daniel, I am aware of that, and I can't say that I am opposed to this as a matter of general principle. However, it is apparent that this was not Noel reaching out to this advocacy group for legal help that he could not otherwise afford. This, according to the article, was an advocacy group with an agenda unrelated to Oak Park, who reached out to him so that they can impose their agenda on this community. It also seems, as you mention, that this proposed suit is nothing more than vindictiveness.

D97 is NOT D200 from Oak Park  

Posted: April 16th, 2011 1:01 PM

@OP, your clarification in essential. Post-referendum I've spoken with many who voted "no" b/c they feel that too much of their tax $ goes to the high school & they are correct--it does. Most of these same people didn't realize that the HS is a separate entity from D97 and cannot "share funds & tax dollars". Some would have changed to a "yes" vote once they learned this imp. distinction b/w districts.


Posted: April 16th, 2011 12:32 PM

FPer, you do know this lawsuit is about D97, the elementary and middle schools, not D200, the high school. Right?

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: April 16th, 2011 12:31 PM

Agreed Carol. That said, advocacy groups routinely use indvidual plaintiffs to pursue litigation they otherwise would not have standing to pursue. So we really can't say that either Taxpayers United or Mr. Kuriakos is doing anything wrong. We can only question why Mr. Kuriakos would want join Taxpayers United to inflict harm on the community. If he thinks the referendum would have been defeated with a different ballot qustion, that's one thing. Otherwise, it merely looks vindictive.

Mary Ellen Eads from Oak Park   

Posted: April 16th, 2011 11:52 AM

I am grateful to Mr. Kuriakos for his contributions to the ref debate; without his input, that debate would have been far more one-sided. As to the lawsuit---don't hold your breath. Even if he wins, there will be appeals, and so on. During that time, many new kindergarten classes will enter Dist 97. The important thing is not to look away, especially when Dist 97 starts handing out raises and bonuses and negotiating contracts. And keep an eye on test scores. No more back to normal we hope.


Posted: April 16th, 2011 11:44 AM

I'm not terribly pleased about it Daniel. I looked at this organization's website, and they appear to be truly awful people who are hell bent on dividing communities and creating and fostering anti-teacher sentiment. I don't think that they have good intentions at all. That is, they pretend like their purpose is pro-taxpayer, but it seems as though their real purpose is to tear down public education.

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: April 16th, 2011 11:39 AM

A agree Carol. And do you think that is a good thing or a bad thing (that an OP resident will be the shill for an organization with no standing)?

Carol from Oak Park  

Posted: April 16th, 2011 11:16 AM

@Daniel Hurtado re: standing. You are correct about (anti)Taxpayers United not having standing. That's why Noel will be the nominal plaintiff. Technically, it will be "his" suit, but the outsider group will be funding it and calling all the shots.


Posted: April 16th, 2011 10:26 AM

I grew up in OP and still watch the goings-on with dismay from FP. I am all for UNDERPAID teachers getting raises but OP has never been a place where salaries were low. OP simply has to manage their money better and fight the fear that OPRF will go down the tubes if that dang billionth refererendum isn't passed. It was true 35 years ago when I was at OPRF and it is true to this day.

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: April 16th, 2011 9:48 AM

Finally, my point is not that teachers should make $500k or make as much as doctors and lawyers do. My point is that it is inaccurate to put teachers in the same economic stratum, and therefrom argue that they are overpaid. Most teachers make considerably less than $100k, which is not excessive given their educational level and their value to our community.

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: April 16th, 2011 9:43 AM

As Ms. Song points out, the data from the Payscale site shows that median salaries nationwide for doctors is indeed about 3 to 5 times more than the median salary for teachers. And one wonders whether "salaried" doctors refers only to those employed by hospitals and clinics, as opposed to those in private practice. It would be interesting to know the median incomes for doctors, lawyers and teachers, respectively, in OP. I'll bet you lunch the ratios are close to what I posited.

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: April 16th, 2011 9:31 AM

I was responding to the rhetorical flourish that if OP taxes keep rising only doctors, lawyers and teachers will be able to live here. The implication is that teacher incomes are comparable to those of doctors and lawyers, which is prepostterous. I compared the top salary of a senior OP educator (presumably $135k) to what I estimate the top income to be for lawyers and doctors in OP. I know from personal experience that for lawyers it is $500k to $1 million. Probably the same for doctors.(more)


Posted: April 16th, 2011 9:20 AM

Chet can be cranky (as can we all), but he's a gent.

Tom Scharre  

Posted: April 16th, 2011 9:09 AM

Gee, I wonder where a fella could get one of those "safety clause" thingys. I would love to be immune from the consequences of my misdeeds, both intended and unintended.

Wendy & Bob Planek  

Posted: April 16th, 2011 8:54 AM

@Kindler - your logic that everyone with a no sign in front of their home or building supports or supported the efforts of Taxpayers United is flawed. We had signs at our buildings and our home long before Taxpayers United was involved in the referendum process. You know what you do when you assume things.... as the saying goes. You should check your sources more closely before you post misinformation. Sorry we expressed an opinion that you don't agree with.

John Abbott from Oak Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 10:57 PM

In re the dispute over anonymity: the pattern has been obvious -- those against the referendum have been much less likely to identify themselves. And yet their position carried a respectable 44% of the vote, which to my mind undercuts their self-portrayal as a viciously persecuted minority. Should David Kindler have spoken of "cowardice" in this regard? Perhaps a more diplomatic word was available. But the burden of proof lies on those who hide behind their pseudonyms to prove him wrong.


Posted: April 15th, 2011 10:55 PM

I thought Noel had his 15 minutes. I guess it wasn't enough.

Julie Klein from Oak Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 9:34 PM

@chet, thank you for your apology. It is accepted and appreciated. Good night.

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 9:14 PM

@Ms Song and Ms Klein. First, it is I who needs to apologize to you. I believe that my "tone" was far more personal than it needed to be, etc. This ref issue, IMO, was about a lot of things and there wasn't a lot of room for grey. We, as a society/nation, are in a period of time that I jokingly/sadly call a return to the "stupid 70's" and I'm quite concerned that we are failing to address the stresses and challenges that we face. I have many friends who are teachers. Have a good night!

Julie Klein from Oak Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 8:51 PM

@chet, I appreciate your explanation, but your tone differs from your earlier posts today. You indeed attack teachers by implying that they are less educated and less deserving of their salaries than MDs & others. I find this offensive. I have two degrees from Duke in addition to post-graduate work at NWU. I believe that most profs. in education feel that change is due, but please don't make sweeping criticisms of the many teachers who work their butts off to reach a diverse student pop.

Carollina Song from Oak Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 8:45 PM

@chet21-Sorry, I just assumed we were talking about D97 teacher pay scales, not D200. It's absolutely appropriate to ask how D200 salaries compare to other high school districts. Wrt # of work hours, there's a lot of data to show that the # of hrs/school day does not truly reflect the # of hrs that teachers work. Wrt retirement, the law has changed; newly hired teachers aren't eligible to retire til age 62- 63, iirc. BTW, lower retirement ages save school districts $$. Good nite & thx for disc.

OP parent  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 8:41 PM

I'd rather have a teacher teaching my kids than a doctor.

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 8:36 PM

@Ms. Klein. For a LONG time we've been told that teachers are underpaid. I think that comparing OPRFHS pay to MD's is relevant to this discussion. It is not a personal attack. I believe that teachers are very important, but the wages and benefits are not in sync with educational achievement, etc - also why the MD comparison is relevant. Even the state of IL is legislating for major changes in education today. Why? Compensation and overall student achievement is not matching up.

Julie Klein from Oak Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 8:24 PM

Oh, what a relief. I thought the teacher-bashing ended with the referendum vote. How could I be so stupid? Oh wait, that's right, I'm a teacher--a part of the vastly undereducated but overpaid Oak Park population of educators.

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 8:20 PM

@epic lulz. Your MD takes summers off? 2 weeks in Spring? 1 wk at Christmas? Cas Day? Not true for my MD friends. I use links/quotes and you resort to insults? Many OPRF teachers are making more than MD's and you call the comparison "apples and oranges"? If you researched, you'll see that I ONLY posted because Mr. Hurtado wrote that MD's make "5 to 10 times more than teachers." I knew that this was not true, but it is believed by a lot of people. Or do you call this another one of my lies?

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 8:11 PM

@Ms. Song. The 2010 OPRFHS state report card shows avg pay for teachers at $93,506 and $154,967 for administrators. MD's work much longer hours, don't get summers off/2 wks at Xmas/Spring Break/Casimir Pulaski Day & more, have higher levels of education at top universities, confront true life and death decisions, can't retire with $100K and more pensions at age 57, etc. But many are paid less than OPRF staff and administrators?

epic lulz  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 8:05 PM

Yeah, chet's all about the apple/orange comparison. In addition to Ms. Sing's take-down, I also note that teachers work as many hours (if you include the ones "off the clock") and doctors get as much "vacation" time, they just take it throughout the year. I'm afraid it's back to school for chet. (btw, I voted "No"; I just hate liars)

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 7:58 PM

@OP - Mr. Hurtado wrote that "doctors....who make 5 to 10 times more than teachers do...." My link showed that the pay differential between MD's and ed majors/MLS is minor AND many make more than primary care physicians. Teachers ARE impt, but, compared to people with much more education, longer days, no summers off, no pensions, AND considering that 99.8% of ed majors/MLS can't even get admitted to Med school - why are they receiving comparable hourly pay and superior benefits?

Carollina Song  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 7:57 PM

It's reasonable to assume that physician pay also increases w/yrs of experience, so one can't simply compare the median salary of physicians w/o regard to their yrs of experience to teachers with 30 yrs of experience. According to the website whose data you cite, the median salary for physicians ($119K-$204K, depending on specialty) should be compared to the median salary for elementary school teachers, which is $40,453. (


Posted: April 15th, 2011 7:28 PM

Chet, you said, " 99.8% of ed majors/MLS could not even get admitted to Med school." So?

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 6:42 PM

@Daniel Hurtado. Here is the link for annual MD salary: Your belief that $135K for teachers vs MD's is not supported by the data. Now also consider the time/debt incurred by MD's before they earn a penny and the "excessiveness" becomes quite dramatic. More? 99.8% of ed majors/MLS could not even get admitted to Med school. MD's also work much longer daily hours, don't get summers off & no pension at age 57.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 6:39 PM

I agree we need a kinder Kinder. As far as pseudonym use in a forum. You can read them. You can skip them. It's a free country. Some of the best comments come from those using pseudonyms and visa-versa. As far as Tax Payers United. I dealt with them on school millage and bond issues. They are loud, annoying and willing to throw cash around but never fully understand issues,back down when challenged, and disassemble at the first sign of criticism. They disrupted elections but had few wins.

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 6:07 PM

I question whether Tax Payers United has standing to bring the suit. If they don't, Noel cannot give them standing. What will happen is that Taxpayers United will be dismissed, and, if Noel has standing, he will have to continue the suit by himself. Taxpayers United will probably pay his legal fees to continue the suit. That's a fine kettle of fish.

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 6:03 PM

@Ronnie. I agree that the ballot-question language was problematic and unnecessarily confused the issue. I don't understand Chapman's advice. On your other point, $135k for a professional at the end of her career is not excessive. Your comment about lawyers, doctors and teachers has been made before. It is preposterous to lump teachers with doctors and lawyers, who make 5 to 10 times more than teachers do. We should pay teachers enough that they can afford to live in Oak Park.

Mann Parent  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 5:40 PM

And it's disgusting that Noel pays out of his own pocket to have his kids in Sunday afternoon academic enrichment programs. He has no money for public schools, but he can afford private instruction?

Interesting Development from Oak Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 4:58 PM

I opposed the Referendum (but, no, I'm not at all interested in the Tea Party), but I'm certainly not in favor of this litigation - the OP voters have spoken. But anybody with an attorney can take legal action against anyone else, I suppose. I can't stop that anymore than I can stop my taxes from increasing. Or, rather, I don't care enough to try.


Posted: April 15th, 2011 4:50 PM

Quit whining Mr. Kuriakos- you didn't get enough votes. But it wasn't because of the wording of the referendum. I was intending to vote No myself- until I received the Taxpayer's United of Ameica literature 2 days before the election which made it obvious that the Teabaggers were behind the No campaign.

OP Voter from Oak Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 4:40 PM

The misrepresentation in the language of the referendum for the real cost per $1,000 of assessed value muddies this vote. Yes, we all support quality education. Yes, we all want to keep our taxes within sensible bounds. No to obfuscation.

Michael Nevins from Oak Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 4:35 PM

Dear Mr. Kindler. I notice that you are very consistent. How so? You seem to like challenging/bullying any and all who you disagree with. In Jan, 2011, you wanted to knock candidates off the OP ballot and now you try to silence people with name calling. I agree with the 3:56 comment from ih8idiots. Please engage in debate - you have much to offer - but don't attempt to stifle it by kicking OP residents off the ballot or name calling on this thread. Disclosure: I'm unaffiliated with all parties.


Posted: April 15th, 2011 4:33 PM

@M. McLaughlin - That's really deep, man.

OP Parent  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 4:11 PM

Carol, you said, "I'm really kind of shocked that Mr. Kuriakos has agreed to be a plaintiff, thus giving this outsider group standing to bring this lawsuit." I'm not--judging from his behavior during the election, it's clear he loves being in the spotlight. This isn't about the referendum anymore, so much as it is Mr. K's ego.

M. McLaughlin  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 4:03 PM

@Kindler - Cowards follow the crowd and don't think for themselves. It's easy to FB verify yourself when hide under the shield of conformity. Every society honors its live conformists, and its dead troublemakers.


Posted: April 15th, 2011 3:56 PM

"Anonymous is now the last refuge of cowards." It's cranks shouting such ballyhoo who underscore the need for remaining Anonymous in this climate of intimidation. Either debate your opponents or concede their point. Crying that they haven't revealed their names just makes you look like the weak coward

OP Coward  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 3:55 PM

Let it go No's, afterall it was an easy win.

Ronnie from River Forest  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 3:53 PM

It is always amazing how the attorneys - our politicians - one and the same - need to make intuitive things more confusing. If I could only get a job as a Sr. Librarian in the district and make $135K with full retirement benefits I could be so lucky. Maybe the folks on the VOTE YES side could understand why this creates so much angst - the District needs to make even more cuts. SO soon enough OP will have only doctors, attorneys and teachers as residents - nice mix.

Carol from Oak Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 3:51 PM

@PLEASE READ THE ARTICLE - Perhaps you should take your own advice. Nowhere in the article does it state that C&C has agreed to represent D97 pro bono, and nowhere does it state that a D97 surety bond will cover this. This is a genuinely bad idea, and I'm really kind of shocked that Mr. Kuriakos has agreed to be a plaintiff, thus giving this outsider group standing to bring this lawsuit, considering his concerns over unnecessary D97 spending.

David Kindler from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 3:49 PM

Dear Anonymous, I didn't catch your name. Anonymous is now the last refuge of cowards.


Posted: April 15th, 2011 3:44 PM

Again, D97 will not/should not have to pay legal fees to defend this suit a) because they have a surety bond, and b) because Chapman will defend it's position pro-bono.

Why spend the money? from Oak Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 3:43 PM

Wow - thanks Noel and Christina Tobin (who is soon to be a resident). Idiocy at its finest. Force the district to spend some of that referendum money defending themselves rather than putting that money towards the schools. And wasn't your point that the district spends too much towards things that aren't education based. What outcome do you hope for? Even if the lawsuit succeeds, I don't think the results can be overturned.

K from Oak Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 3:41 PM

Brilliant. Now we can pass another referendum so the district has the funds to defend the lawsuit.

Mr Anonymous from Oak Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 3:39 PM

Mr Kindler, over 5,000 of us voted against the ref, and I think you'd agree that the vast majority were not residents of a particular building owner's apartmemts. Speaking for myself, placing a NO sign in front of my home on a street where I was greatly outnumbered by Yes signs simply wouldn't have been worth the aggravation of being chastised for being "against the children". Normally rational people would've gone off on me; no open-minded, touchy-feely support of my right to an opposite view.

Find It Out  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 3:34 PM

D97 is protected by the safety clause, but someone should sue C&C. So what if they wrote the law? Don Harmon, who co-sponsored the law, disagrees with their interpretation, as does anyone plainly reading the law. And then there is their connections with Village officials. They're either incompetent or corrupt, and a law suit is a good way to discover which.

Oak Parker  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 3:31 PM

Ironic that the much of argument against the referendum was the spending of money they already have, yet now the district will be forced to spend to defend this lawsuit. Now that is a waste of district money.

David Kindler from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 3:29 PM

His supporters want to remain anonymous? Not hard to figure out who they are since most of the No Signs popped up in front of apartment buildings owned by the same owner.


Posted: April 15th, 2011 3:26 PM

I hope Noel is aware of what kind of people run the organization that he's about to climb in bed with. These same people,, NONE OF WHOM LIVE IN OAK PARK, sent a letter around slamming ALL of our OP teachers, who they do not know and with whom they have no experience. While Noel obviously had a stake in the outcome, these people don't, and now are going to walk into our community, with Noel's help, and force the District to expend funds on defending a lawsuit. Sickening.

Luke Scottwalker from Oak Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 3:18 PM

Hmmm...not sure how I feel about this, even as a non-supporter of the ref. The people have spoken, yet OPer's are usually very OK with courts stepping in to overturn elections if the outcome isn't what they want. What I am sure of is that D97 shouldn't spend one dime in legal fees if there is a suit. Chapman should defend this pro-bono, since they're the cause of all the confusion.

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