Trust and transparency issues exist with some of the District 200 school board candidates. Incumbents Fred Arkin and Sara Dixon Spivy voted to bypass voters in 2015 to spend $37.5 million on an Olympic-size pool and demolishing the garage. In 2016, they voted to spend 77% of the proposed $44.5 million on a 40-meter x 25-yard pool and its associated building costs, and they supported the disingenuous marketing of the referendum as an academic and performing arts initiative. Their actions don’t inspire trust. What’s their stand on the large pool now?
Pension pickups are controversial, and their wording in contracts can lack transparency. The D200 board, including Arkin and Spivy, approved a 9 percent annual pension pickup for the superintendent, her entire required state retirement contribution in her current contract, but it didn’t state the percentage amount. A FOIA revealed the 9 percent and also that this pickup is 2-3 times more than the pension pickup of the other 32 administrators/division heads.
The D90 contract disingenuously states that the board will pay a “portion” of teachers’ required state retirement contributions. A FOIA revealed that the board actually picks up the entire 9% required pension contribution, not a portion of it, for every teacher. This pension pickup is a practice continued by the current board and President Ralph Martire.
A possible conflict of interest or the appearance of one is inherent in the candidacies of Gina Harris and Martire. They both have political and financial ties to the Illinois Education Association (IEA), the union that represents D200’s teachers. Harris is a teacher and an IEA leader; Martire runs a political center that receives substantial funding from the IEA and other unions. D200 board members elected on April 2 will have input and influence in the next teacher contract. IEA interests belong on only one side of the negotiating table.
Jack Davidson, William Gale, Monica Sheehan, Doug Springer, and Leslie Sutphen