The stated intent of District 90 salary policy is to pay teachers in-line with comparable districts. Comparables consist of 22 high-performing districts in the west and north suburbs.

In 1998, Dist. 90 ranked 18th of the 22 districts in average teacher salary. Though lower than many of its comparables, Dist. 90’s average teacher salary actually exceeded the statewide elementary school district average by 5.8 percent. The low teacher salary ranking within the comparable group is consistent with the lack of experience of Dist. 90 teachers, whose 12.9 average years of experience ranked 21st of the 22 districts.

Over the next seven years, average teacher salary rose by 36.3 percent. This was the fourth fastest increase of the 22 districts. The increase was implemented through base salary hikes of 7 percent in 2002, 7 percent in 2003, 6 percent in 2004, and 5.5 percent in 2005.

As a result of the policy, Dist. 90 average teacher salary rose to eighth of the 22 districts in 2005. Though salaries improved, average experience regressed. Average Dist. 90 teacher experience actually fell to 11.6 years, once again ranking 21st of the 22 districts. Over one-third of Dist. 90 teachers have five or less years of experience according to the district’s 2005 audit.

I estimate that the seven-year excess hike in teacher salaries to be at least $1 million by 2005. Is it the district’s policy to provide above-average pay for below-average experience?

Note: Average teacher pay (2005) of $60,435 is for a 180-day work year. Compared to the more typical 230-day work year (4 weeks vacation and 10 holidays), this is approximately equivalent to $77,225.

Dist. 90 staffing policy has enabled the employee count to rise at a significantly faster pace than enrollment over the past five years. From 2000?#34;05, enrollment increased by 44 (3.2 percent) while staff count rose by 25 (15.7 percent), i.e. more than 1 new staff position has been added for each two-student increase. During the last nine years, staffing rose by 51 percent (from 122 to 184) according to the audit. While such a large staffing increase may have been entirely appropriate, the district has not, to my knowledge, fully explained the rise. I estimate that this five-year staffing increase added at least $500,000 to payroll.

The estimated total incremental effect on the budget of the board salary and staffing policies, $1.5 million or more, represents much of the $2 million operating deficit of 2005. Instead of boosting teacher salaries and increasing staffing, could the money have been put to better use by reinstating programs previously dropped, e.g. all-day kindergarten?

Are such expenditures necessary to maintain the academic excellence of our schools? Dist. 90 is rightfully proud of its status as a “Bright A+” award recipient for 2006. Eleven of Dist. 90’s comparables received this award.

Note that high salary growth rates and above-average salaries are not required to sustain academic excellence. Winnetka 36, Northbrook 28, Glencoe 35, and Western Springs 101 demonstrate that it is possible for financial conservatism and academic achievement to coexist. These districts?#34;not the high-spending DuPage County districts?#34;should be our models.

The increased expenditures have done little to bolster ISAT performance.

Between 2001 and 2005, district scores declined on 6 of the 8 tests, though statewide performance improved on all 8 tests. Is there any quantifiable or qualitative evidence that significantly higher salaries and staffing have improved Dist. 90 schools?

As you spend the peoples’ money over the next few years, I’d like the board members to keep in mind the district’s mission statement:

“We are committed to preparing our children, our number one priority, to confront the changing world by providing a strong academic foundation and instilling the love of learning in an environment that fosters student growth, nurtures respect for others as well as an appreciation of self, and challenges our children to excellence.”

Each time you make a decision, please ask yourselves:

1) Are we remaining true to our mission statement?

2) Have we done the proper analysis?

Process should always precede policy.

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