Scary thinking of D97 schools without librarians

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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We are supporting the District 97 referendum because we want to support Oak Park's historically strong school system. Some of the greatest assets of our schools need our support now if we want to keep them and build a stronger school system into the future. Because District 97 has not run such a referendum in more than 20 years, we think it is very reasonable — untimely, given the economy — to be asked for support. The referendum will cost our family about $200 a year.

There are many things about our schools we love and that our daughter would be heartbroken without. Art would be a major loss for her, and our girl gets majorly bummed when she has to miss library time. We are happy she feels so strongly about academic pursuits, and think her school must be doing something right if she's sad about missing the chance to make art or check out new books.

The future of District 97 libraries is our major concern. Should the referendum fail, the district plans to cut school librarian positions by half. The school librarians do much that is unnoticed, including teaching research skills, Internet use and safety, and a love of reading. With a 50 percent reduction in school librarians, we can expect a 50 percent reduction in the teaching and services our librarians now provide. That would be a major loss of learning for children.

The problem with cutting all these librarian positions is not just a personal one for us. Research from many different states, including Illinois, shows that well-staffed and well-funded school libraries produce kids who are both better readers and better writers. They also do better on standardized tests such as the ISAT. In our view, reading is the most fundamental of all the skills schools are responsible for teaching, so cost-cutting in an area known to affect kids' reading development — staffing and funding of school libraries — is just scary to us.

We look forward to many more years of excellent education for our daughter, a third grader at Irving. Because of the reading program run by our school's teacher librarian this year, our daughter has read nine more high-quality books than she otherwise would have. At this rate, between kindergarten and eighth grade, she will have read 81 more great books than she would have without the excellent librarianship we now have in District 97. That is amazing to us.

We're voting yes.

Anne and Kathy Jordan-Baker
Oak Park

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Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

Sug Newton  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 1:01 AM

@good listener I think you have shown the skills and leadership that are far beyond that of Oak Park school administrators. You can probably explain why we should vote for this shoddy referendum. Please feel free to say THE CHILDREN and THE ARTS several times in your speach. PS also mention some statistics that don't add up. Teachers should be paid more and taxpayers really like to enable them.

Anchor Teachers  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 12:45 AM

@all public employees. Are you opposed or against this residency requirement? Sounds like a good idea to have all those folks whose health pensions and paychecks we dole out to be in the game. Do you Agree? Or should we hire illegals to come in the early morning and leave at night? (this would cut our taxes, they don't argue at the bargaining table) They don't request collective bargaining,health, pensions and all those other trifflin rights. Please advise your position.

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 11:48 PM

@TribQuotes, the Board s/b on the side of the tax payer. They need to communicate the ballot language in everyday English. The fact that they have been towing the legal line, leads one to conclude that they did not have the best interests of the tax payer in mind. Other Boards who questioned similar ballot lang has taken the extra step of notifying tax payers of the misleading language. Why didn't D97 do it earlier?

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 11:43 PM

@BnCntr, D97s levy inc by 50% from 1999-2009. The CPI inc by 1/2 that. So D97 s/ have controlled costs & saved for a rainy day. Instead they consistently overspent on salary -> pedagogical fads: hiring expensive teachers & paying for MA degrees without the requisite inc in meaningful measures in teaching effectiveness & learning outcomes. Why do we have 4 schools failing AYP & minority pop doing worse than their white/Asian peers & scores hitting diminishing returns with all this spending?

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 11:33 PM

@OP-Tchr-Lib, The debate is two fold. Do schools need to provide a lending facility in an age where most books can (will) be downloaded to a reading device? Do books and information need to be in a printed format? Secondly, with the semantic web are teacher-librarians necessary for every school? As long as kids are taught critical thinking skills they can ask the right questions & retrieve the right information from the semantic web. 80% of the time they will not need the assistance of a librn.

OP Resident from what evah  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 10:55 PM

Now .. not some forgoten yesterday... Now .. Tomorrow just to far away ... So hold this moment fast ... and live and love as hard as you now how ... and make this moment last

beancounter from op  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 10:35 PM

@GoodListener: In the eyes of any decent auditor, finding material weaknesses like that for two years in a row is a giant red flag for financial mismanagement. It means that they had no reasonable explanation for why they couldn't balance their books and generally denotes complete incompetence.

Tribune quotes  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 8:47 PM

that didn't post right: "Both Traczyk and ElSaffar agreed that another figure released by the district %u2014 that the referendum measure would increase tax bills by $38 per every $1,000 of existing property taxes paid %u2014 is both easier to calculate and an accurate representation of the potential tax increase."

Tribune quotes  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 8:46 PM

and "Both Traczyk and ElSaffar agreed that another figure released by the district%u2014that the referendum measure would increase tax bills by $38 per every $1,000 of existing property taxes paid%u2014is both easier to calculate and an accurate representation of the potential tax increase."

Tribune quotes  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 8:46 PM

Trib quotes that DIRECTLY APPLY TO DIST 97 referendum: "District 97, in general, is putting on a good campaign and is putting out good numbers," ElSaffar said. "I don't think they are trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes." (cont)

OP_taxpayer from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 7:35 PM

CHICAGO TRIBUNE - March 20 - "the ballet underestimates the (tax) increase by as much as 70%..." "'s too late to reprint the ballots..." This vote is a sham on the taxpayers. A lie to fool people. We all have to vote NO.

all public employees  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 7:17 PM

@Anchor, so all public employees in Oak Park -- park district, D200, D97, village employees, policeman, firemen, township employees, all of them should live in the village? I think the city of Chicago has done that. Not sure that will change anyone's mind about the importance of said public employees nor will it make anyone believe those same employees should be paid well. For the record, many of D97 employees do live within the village and do pay taxes.

Tom Scharre  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 6:06 PM

@Good Listener: So, one year constitutes a potential scandal, but two years constitutes a "track record"? I only wish you were my personal friend, because your ability for "forgiveness", seems limitless. (And I mean that in the most honest sense.)

Anchor Teachers  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 5:28 PM

I suggest that we start making new hires to the district move here and be forced to pay their fair share. All others can take a pay freeze until we can figure out what is affordable. Cap salaries at 100,000. To think that D 97 has a good handle on it's finances is at best enabling a beast with a bad spending habit. They have folks on the payroll checking kids. They can check the employees also. It would be nice to see people with a stake in the game play with our tax dollars.

Good Listener  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 4:51 PM

@BeanCounter - I believe that it is a clean audit record for TWO years and very minor findings from 3 years ago. That seems like a track record! Under new Finance Office leadership (3 years now), the District has made great progress and has a tight control on where the money goes.

beancounter from op  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 3:53 PM

@ejackson: but that's after findings of "material weaknesses" and a couple warnings regarding no-bid contracts, and a lack of reviewing repairs in 2007 and 2008. One year isn't a track record in my book. It's my taxes they wasted, and now they're asking for more.

New Day  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 2:31 PM

Once you lose faith in any organization to handle money wisely, it is hard to keep giving it to them. Some don't give to the Catholic Church because of sexual abuse lawsuits. I am opposed to the new tax hike because I have lost faith in efficient government. As Ross Perot once said "A big sucking sound." Let the consultants teach D 97 how to work with in a BUDGET. I know this is a new lesson for these people. They can do more with less if they change the way that they think. The Cow is dry

E. Jackson  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 2:16 PM

New Day - the district reported recently that its independent audit for fiscal year 2010, which was conducted by McGladrey & Pullen, featured no internal control or compliance deficiencies.

Voting Yes  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 1:54 PM

The proposed annual increase is est. at $380, slightly more than a dollar a day. From what I have seen, the Dist has done a very good job with our tax dollars where they have control. I love the education my children are getting, love it. Also, I want my property to remain attractive with a great school system. Lose that and all you will have left is the high tax bill. My property value will drop more than I will save if this does not pass in my opinion.

New Day  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 12:35 PM

You're right, that's uncalled for. I will forward Curious's new auditing procedures to Preckwinkle. Raise taxes, hire more administrators to catch waste and fraud. How did they manage to complete 2 straight years of audits with a shortage of beancounters-administrators. Hire consultants. District 97 works in mysterious ways. I am glad they didn't audit the books back 3 superintendants ago it is too long ago and stolen money and fraud are something to be swept under the rug like Don Robinson

to New Day  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 10:42 PM

Could you please stick to facts and stop name-calling.

New Day  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 9:38 PM

@curious Thanks for the transparency. I didn't know that the solution to finding those D 97 administrators that are stealing is to hire more administrators to watch over the kleptos. What happened to the whistleblower Don Robinson(Director of Finance) who exposed the fraud? He messed up the MONEY TRAIN-referendum. He "resigned".I think the fraud was a long term scheme, not created by budget cuts. Do you really believe that administration cuts led to this crime? Are you a Union Stewardess?


Posted: March 20th, 2011 9:22 PM

@NewDay- Would you have preferred that Maletesta kept stealing money and wasn't caught? This action was predominantly over 6 years ago and 3 superintendents ago. Yes, the District missed his alleged scams (he hasn't been convicted yet) but they immediately cleaned things up when the audit fingered him. Actually, budget cuts in Finance 7-8 years ago reduced the number of people to catch him. That's what happens when you cut oversight too deeply. Perfect audits for the last 2 years now.

New Day  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 8:59 PM

@Dean Did District 97 make all of the "cuts" while Jerome Malatesta was running the building and grounds department? I am sure he was running a lean(scam) department as he skimmed his department of million after million. If anyone thinks that D 97 is running a tight ship than they must think that Mubarek is very misunderstood! Fiscal sanity is just one election away. NO

OP Teacher Librarian from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2011 7:06 PM

@Noel, I am a teacher librarian, OP resident and D97 parent and for obvious reasons, very interested in this article. Two questions come to mind: First, I wonder if you know what teacher librarians do? We don't teach reading, that is what classroom teachers and reading specialists do. What we do teach is technology and yes, Google Books. Also, I am interested in your quote, "In fact there is a debate as to the value of most school librarians." Can you tell me where you found this debate?

Booklover, but Budget Savvy from OP  

Posted: March 19th, 2011 11:14 AM

Anne & Kathy: Thanks! But if converting out of hard copies and into electronic versions would save money, would you consider it? I guess I'm asking about how we can create and fund more cost-effective systems. I mean, I can find books I need on without the help of a librarian...that doesn't mean librarians aren't needed, but it might mean that there's a different more efficient model that should be explored.

Anne and Kathy Jordan-Baker  

Posted: March 19th, 2011 11:13 AM

We apologize to our fellow commenters about our terrible typographical errors in our previous post! We have higher standards! We are sorry! On another note, Anne is reading a book called "The Big Book of Irony" by Jon Winokur, which she highly recommends. Including misspellings after making an impassioned case for excellence in reading and writing is indeed an irony. Please assume all such future mistakes on our part are acts of intentional irony. And read Winokur's book: it's great!

Anne and Kathy Jordan-Baker  

Posted: March 19th, 2011 11:01 AM

Hi, Booklover. Our comments about the importance of books and learning are in response to a couple of early comments (far below) questionsing the value of books and librarians. In writing our letter, we assumed a shared community value that reading and books are important for children and adults, but those comments reminded us that we cannot necessary assume that. Some think books are going away because of computers,ipads, ipods, etc., but we just don't see that happening. Hope that helps.

Booklover, but Budget Savvy from Oak Park  

Posted: March 19th, 2011 10:37 AM

@Anne & Kathy: Don't oversimplify this to being "for or against books and librarians". Most will be strongly in favor of both, I assure you. But, at some point, District 97 (and every other thing in OP that taxes us) has to meet a budget. So, I hope that you'll turn your enthusiasm into suggesting solutions for how we can keep everything that's great about books and librarians, but do it more cost effectively now and in the future. I appreciate your efforts, and anxiously await your response

Anne and Kathy Jordan-Baker  

Posted: March 19th, 2011 10:21 AM

Oops...the last part of that comment was cut off. What we were saying was, Last, we want to publicly affirm our belief that books in both paper and electronic forms are important now and will remain important for a long time.

Anne and Kathy Jordan-Baker  

Posted: March 19th, 2011 10:20 AM

Thank you to everyone for reading our letter! To get an idea of all that our librarians do for kids, take a look at any of their websites: Here's the Illinois study of school libraries: . To learn more about the importance of reading for kids of all ages, try Daniel Willingham's book "Why Don't Students Like School," ch. 2. Last, we want to publicly affirm our belief that books in bo

MBA from OP  

Posted: March 19th, 2011 6:38 AM

@Pharmacist: Great point! That's the way it works for pretty much the whole rest of the world. For example, I have an MBA and 20 years of experience in business. I still have to prove myself every day, can get fired despite top-notch performance in re-orgs or if profits fall (by no fault of my own), and work with freshly minted MBAs who get paid about the same as I do. The world is a tough place...but apparently it's less tough for librarians and teachers than for the rest of us.

Pharmacist from OP  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 7:44 PM

I have been a pharmacist for nearly 20 years. Today's Pharm D program graduates earn 95% of what I make with 20 years of experience. They earn this 95% starting their first day of work. Maybe experienced teachers really shouldn't make much more than newer teachers. Let the free market dictate what they get paid. That's the way it works for us pharmacists.

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 5:36 PM

@Hmmm. That's just it - I do not know why $17M is more significant than $20M. Why, then, if the gap is $3M, do they want almost $6M in cuts? I'm a natural skeptic, and so this makes me doubt their Armageddon scare tactics. I also know that IL, with the tax increase, will be paying promptly. Annual Fed and State money is $19M - this IS significant. We need to vote NO and start fresh - and get it right.

Hmmm from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 4:10 PM

@chet21. " I have no idea and I'd like to know - D97 says that this is significant - not me. " From the presentation and looking at the days of cash on hand and the payment delays from the State, I could see how they might get tight cash flow wise at points during the year. If they got paid on time i could also see how the fund balance would be OK for a few more years probably.

This is why  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 3:32 PM

@Noel: What if some of those "highly valued" teachers are also "high priced teachers with master degrees?" Fire them?

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 3:24 PM

@Hmmm. 1.) $17M? $14M? Why is $20M just fine? I have no idea and I'd like to know - D97 says that this is significant - not me. Re-read my post. 2.) Claiming "cuts" (which they did), without providing context, is useless. For instance, we do know that overall spending increased dramatically. So, having an increase of 8% AFTER THE CUTS - which, without cuts would have been 8.5%, provide "context" for me. Also, some of the cuts sound like temp window dressing - supplies, equipment, travel?!?

Hmmm from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 2:45 PM

@chet21 - Nice play on words. Cuts in the past are not really "cuts" because they don't go far enough but future proposed cuts are just "threats?" I get your point but that hardly fair. Also, at what point do you think the surplus is too low? $17M seem low to me given how late they get paid from the county and State (hopefully better now) with cash flow but I am willing to listen. When, $14M, $10M?

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 1:56 PM

@This is why from Oak Park. Tenure protects teachers from competition. Yes experience is useful but it also has a half life. GREAT teachers adapt with the times, engage students year after year & are effective at teaching. They don't need protection of tenure. They will be highly valued and paid to remain. We should call our state rep & senators & demand that they vote for the Performance Counts Act Counts Act of 2010_final(1).pdf

This is why from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 1:32 PM

@Noel: You make an excellent case for the importance of tenure.

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 1:14 PM

@Dean. What you say is somewhat true (they've made "cuts," but still overall spending has increased dramatically - for me that's a "cut" similar to someone intending to drink 8 beers, but reducing it to 7 - when others at the table (i.e, other school districts) are drinking just 2 or 3), but it doesn't answer my main question: why are the threats being made now - when the surplus of $17M is not significantly different than the $20M of the past two years?


Posted: March 18th, 2011 1:05 PM

@Leaning toward yes: Do some research on the budget area of D97 website and/or attend a forum. D97 has been doing a combination of making cuts and using reserve capital for the past ten years. Well and good, but the projections are that this is unsustainable past 2013. That's what this is about: a sustainable future for D97 that doesn't gut non-core programs.

Leaning toward yes  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 9:57 AM

Chet21 raises a really good question. What is so difference this year with a surplus of 17m, when there was a surplus of 20m the previous 2 yrs? 3 million cuts can be made w/o cutting arts and music it seems to me.

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 9:54 AM

We can also replace the high priced teachers with masters degrees with teachers who were part of the 'quality blind' firings in other districts. Quality blind refers to the firing of effective teachers over those who are less effective and have tenure. D97 received over 7000 applications or 49 positions.

Alan Reed from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 9:50 AM

Search salaries here: @Daniel: In addition to a history of "material weaknesses" in their audits, D97 continues to say that they have to fire the good new teachers in their suggested cuts because others are protected by tenure. Does that sound accountable to you?

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 9:42 AM

@Daniel. Cuts? 1/2 of librarians ($.3M), K-5 Spanish ($.6M), M-C Dept ($.2M), D97 freeze - and not a "sorta freeze" ($1.3M). D97 has a 6/30/11 surplus of $17M. They had $20M on this date past two years - and didn't threaten Armageddon. Why now? They don't provide a monthly cash-flow analysis, but it'd help with this important question. When does State and Fed provide $$$? Monthly? Qtrly? And then there are those pension bonuses on pg38 -

Noel Kuriaks  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 9:07 AM

@Open House Coffee, I was not invited. Is this a private affair at a residence? If I receive an invitation, I would gladly accept.

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 9:04 AM

@Daniel, I also agree that good & great teachers should be paid based on their value add. But you have not defined your subjective assessment of worth. A market based compensation system tied to measures & metrics is the best method to determine this. It should not be based on an opinion. Many non-profit orgs have cut the pay of their best employees during the downturn because of funding. They have not departed en mass. Many unions have given pay cuts concessions to keep their jobs also.

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 8:45 AM

Noel, I'll check your cite. Re: teacher pay, the fact that teachers voluntarily took a pay freeze as a gesture of good faith does not mean that the union will be bullied in the way you suggest. That is unrealistic. It is also undesirable. We need good teachers and they should be paid what they are worth.

Open House Coffee  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 8:24 AM

317 N Lombard 3-5pm 3/19

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 8:15 AM

@ Daneil, read D97's has mismanaged its finances consistently & is stems from a structural issue.

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 8:12 AM

@Daniel, even with a contract in place the d97 CB was able to concede a wage freeze. I believe a wage cut can be garnered also. There are two options for teachers, accept a wage cut or be let go. Thousands of teachers have been let go across the country so their job prospects are not the best. I believe the teachers will weigh these options & conclude a pay cut is the only option given that their pay has been inc, even when our economy has been in a recession.

Noel Kuirakos  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 8:08 AM

@open house coffee, can you give me the details?

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 7:27 AM

Alan, I get it that tax increases are not in an of themselves a desirable thing, and that some people would prefer that teachers take $10k to $15k annual cut rather than have their individual taxes incease by a few hundred dollars. But I think it is important to be accurate in this discussion. $1000 is materially different thatn $342. Fwiw, I don't accept your premise that D97 has been unaccountable or that there is a structural malaise.

Open House Coffee  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 7:12 AM

Noel, will you be attending this event w/Peter T tommorrow on Lombard?

Alan Reed from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 5:32 AM

@Daniel: I think you're missing OP from Foreclosure's point -- he already pays $9,000 in taxes each year, about a third of which go to district 97. And, he's losing money and presumably facing foreclosure given his handle. The $342 extra per year is like asking for blood from a stone. District 97 should be accountable to the taxpayers of Oak Park who fund it and demonstrate ongoing fiscal accountability as well as structural effectiveness and efficiency.

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 12:15 AM

I can't speak for anyone but myself, but I don't want teachers to take huge pay cuts (assuming D97 could in fact negotiate such cuts with the union). I want teachers to be paid what they are worth (which is not the case even at current compensation levels).

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 12:10 AM

For what it's worth "OP from foreclosure," your tax increase would be about $342 per year.

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 12:02 AM

Why isn't the YES side questioning the so called short fall? Why haven't we received an explanation as to why the musical & visual arts are being cut? Why isn't the YES side demanding salary cuts from staff?

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 12:00 AM

Steve, first, I don't think you've made the case that there are structural problems within D97's power to fix. For that reason, among others, defeating the referendum won't force D97 to address the macro issues you identify. It will force them to make cuts that will harm the health of the schools.

OP from foreclosure  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 12:00 AM

Taxes on my 2 flat south of the Ike are $9,000. The gross rent is 18,000 per year IF both units are occupied. One tenant has not paid the rent since October. Now D97 is asking for another $1,000 a year. I cannot afford the mortgage now. You are pouring salt in my wounds. Thank you.

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 12:00 AM

@Daniel, again, the tax levy & other sources of revenues bring in close to $70M. D97 needs to control expenses & not spend more than it receives. We spend $13K per pupil & d97 want to spend more. By voting no you are forcing the district to live within its means. One way to do that is to get back to a new normal in term of salaries & then implement structural reforms to sustain the savings. You can't have a sustainable school system @ d97 if you don't do both.

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 11:54 PM

@Daniel, how about a 15% salary reduction for all staff. How about making teachers with single health ins coverage pay 40% of their premiums (they pay 0% today). How about making teachers with family coverage pay an additional 5% more on their health care premiums? These will provide about $5 million in savings.

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 11:54 PM

Noel, this entire discussion is about whether the referendum should be passed. If you are not saying that all of these good things will happen as a result of defeating the referendum, then what is your point? In any event, good night.


Posted: March 17th, 2011 11:53 PM

@Daniel. So instead of forcing the district to deal with the structural issue, it is better to just kick the can down the road? By just throwing more money at the issue, that is what is effectively being said. I will not teach my children to spend now and figure how to pay for it later. A vote NO will force the district to look for longer term solutions, which will be a Win Win for students and tax payers.

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 11:49 PM

I have always stated that once the referendum fails, the admin should conduct a zero based budgeting exercise to determine the direct & indirect instr costs. The cuts would be prioritized based on this & implemented for 2011-2012 sch yr. During 11-12, the structural reform plans will be formulated & finalized for 12-13 school yrs. It is like carrying out a rehab effort, you change the structural elements without affecting the facade in a major way, yet the subsystems are new & improved.

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 11:46 PM

Steve, as to your first post, it is not at all clear to me that combining the districts or converting from pensions to 401k's would save money. As to firing faculty and administrators, much of that is already slated to happen if the referendum fails. I don't really follow your second post. But you are right, these kinds of macro issues can't really be resolved in the context of a referendum. To risk immediate harm to our schools in the hope of some future macro-changes is not responsible.

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 11:38 PM

@Daniel, I did not say that these these reforms will happen when the referendum does not pass. These are structural changes that will create long term savings & improve teaching effectiveness & increase learning engagement & prepare our kids for the 21st century. I have said many times that after the referendum fails, the admin needs to conduct a zero based budgeting exercise to determine direct instructional costs & indirect instructional costs. This will help prioritize the cuts.

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 11:31 PM

So the duties of the sup will be split between a chief edu officer & a operations mgr, who will manage the day to day workings of the school systems (fin, tech, bldg ops, etc). The CEO will focus on on the design of current curriculum, research emerging trends, design new pilot programs, conduct continuous learning assessment using measures & metrics & provide the structure & mechanisms for teachers to guide the emphasis on student achievement in their respective schools.


Posted: March 17th, 2011 11:27 PM

@Daniel Reforms, now i'm sure your comeback will be that it is the state's issue, not OP, it is in our states constitution. I'm sorry i live in a state with socialistic state laws. Why does Illinois have the most underfunded pension. The state not matching is not the correct answer. The state did match contributions, but the state also promised 12 times what teachers are putting in, that is why it is underfunded. Does it matter if your tax increase comes from Oak Park or the state?

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 11:25 PM

I see Noel. You want the Sup to be a chief ed officer, but not to have authority over principals and teachers, and principals not to have authority over teachers? That is what you call a "21st century learner framework"? That's what you think will lower costs? That's what you think will be created if the referendum does not pass?


Posted: March 17th, 2011 11:22 PM

@Daniel. Reforms, here u go. 1) collapse 97 into the high school district, this will save millions on administration salaires. Elmhurst has one school district. 2) convert pensions into 401k. This will save OP millions and the state Billions. 3) I heard the junior highs have assistant principals for 6th,7th and 8th grade, is this true, if it is, Fire them. 3) Fire social workers and psychologists, hire on an hourly basis PHD's in psychology, This will save millions in pensions. more coming

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 11:16 PM

D97's Sup contract does not specify student achievement goals! In 21st century school settings, district leaders are more likely to set continual improvement goals for students & they are also more likely to specify targets for students & schools who have already met & who are still struggling to meet standards. By not holding d97's Sup accountable, using measures & metrics that matter, we will repeat the mistakes of the past & pay for it dearly. The failure of two schools in AYP is an example

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 11:06 PM

@Daniel as for reforms, the underlying premise is that d97 s/b preparing our kids for the 21st century according to the 21st century learner framework. To be effective & efficient, a school district must have a 21st century system in order to implement such as framework. One way is to have a flatter focused organization. The current D97 org is a remnant of mid 20th century district structure Sup->Principal->Teacher etc. The Sup position should be chief edu officer not a jack of all trades.

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 10:56 PM

Noel, you were asking ME for clarification? Of what? Respectfully, you are dodging the questions. Since you are making the claim, you must have at least a rough idea of what the shortfall is and how it can be reduced or eliminated in a manner differently than what D97 has suggested. And again, what about the reforms? The burden of proof is on you.

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 10:50 PM

@whevevs, your funny. Your hebetudinous posts are an asset to this conversation.

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 10:46 PM

@Daniel, if you care to look at the 5 yr projections created by PNC you will clearly see that they state that is an aggregate projection. You asked a question about the short fall, without understanding the underlying process of its creation. I asked if you could provide me with some clarifying information. You have not. I have taken the time to understand the nuances of the shortfall & I would like to respond to those who have taken the time to understand it as well.


Posted: March 17th, 2011 10:45 PM

noel, if you weren't drowning in your own bathwater, you might have actually heard what someone besides yourself was saying.

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 10:36 PM

Noel, you have made affirmative claims that the shortfall can be eliminated without a referendum and without the the cuts D97 proposes in the absence of a referendum. But you can't explain how because you don't believe you can take D97's projections at face value? That means you don't have a basis for your claims. And what about the matter of how you think D97 needs to be reformed?

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 10:28 PM

@whevevs, Please ask Peter T directly. I was there also. Also check out the D97s response on P18. It says the FL is ineffective.


Posted: March 17th, 2011 10:23 PM

Noel, I have been at the last three referenda and peter never said that. Cite, please.

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 10:21 PM

@ Daniel, Why must music & the visual arts be cut? I can understand why the foreign lang was cut, Peter T stated that it was ineffective.

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 10:18 PM

@Daniel, I would be happy to but I need some clarifications. The short fall is a forecast based on assumptions by D97. What are those assumptions. As a software product manager for the last 15 yrs, I regularly had to create forecasts for my products for budgeting purposes. Good managers create 3 to 5 forecasts that reflect the several potential outcomes of an uncertain future. Forecasts can be gamed by altering the underlying assumptions. The FORECASTED shortfall is a SWAG estimate.


Posted: March 17th, 2011 10:12 PM

daniel, he never answers questions like this, just fyi. Unless you count: charging parents $10k per student or eliminating principals

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 10:09 PM

Noel, I am interested in your answer to 2 questions: (1) precisely how can D97 close the shortfall without eliminating or substantially reducing music, theatre, sports, etc.; and (2) in what way, precisely, do you believe D97 needs to be reformed and will be reformed if the referendum does not pass?

more info on salaries  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 10:06 PM

people who rely on for salaries are sheep:

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 10:00 PM

A NO vote will put a fiscal constraint on d97 & it will be forced to come up with creative solutions for the fiscal problems. It will force the parent community, teacher community & the community at large to work hand in hand. The Oak Park community has many educated & creative citizens who can assist in this process. There are many wealthy individuals in our community who have given generously to other organizations & would not hesitate to fund programs for our schools.

A hard working teacher  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 9:55 PM

the student who is bad at math, but good at art, music, acting, and any other "non-academic" subject. Teacher librarians are also important to schools. It's like saying, "Oh, we don't need this third grade teacher. This other teacher can split their time between two schools" These programs that we might be loosing are important, maybe not to you, but definitely to some student or parent. Once they are gone, it is much harder to get them back.

A hard working teacher  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 9:55 PM

No, that is not what I'm saying. No teacher makes this much nor would they make this much if they were retiring. I was just giving a for instance because some districts have higher salaries. You are reading into what you want to read into. I know your mind is made up and no one can change it, but these decisions will affect generations to come. Please realize that every person and program is important to someone in the district:

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 9:52 PM

No vote will lead to reform & better schools. It is in the interest of the status quo to state that it is not going to work. They are the same ones who backed Sup Collins 4 yrs ago who ultimately proved to be ineffective at edu policy & fiscal mgmt. They will support the board & the sup yet can't offer one reason as to why the musical arts & the visual arts are being cut. They can't offer a reason as to why with $13K spent per pupil we still have schools not meeting IL AYP.

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 9:12 PM

@A hard working teacher. Um, do you have any link where I said that a librarian was earning $140K? I know I didn't. BTW, are YOU saying that a "teacher" at age 53, "retiring in the next four years" COULD be earning this sum due to the pension bonuses? Your post does lead me to conclude that you are. Regardless, I'm inquiring how D97 determined that we need a "MLS" person at every school - all the time? Can't we do 2 for 3 schools, etc?

A hard working teacher  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 9:00 PM

Well, what would you pay for almost 30 years of experience?

A hard working teacher  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 8:59 PM

Also, I can guarantee you that NO teacher librarian makes $140,000. True, a teacher's salary goes up the last four years of service in order to calculate the person's pension. However, this teacher librarian would then be retiring in the next four years, which is not happening. No teacher librarian is retiring. I even checked this "wonderful" website and it lists the most experienced teacher librarian as making $96,000. This is $44,000 less that what chet21 is "quoting". Is this a lot? Well,

A hard working teacher  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 8:58 PM

The website, is a JOKE...see website that commenter OP posted: My lovely Tea Partier great-uncle created this site. It is not only insulting, but highly inaccurate. I told my cousin how it listed me as working at another D97 school and making a much higher salary than I do. She must have told him because it was updated to show "correct" information. At least they got the school right this time...Continued


Posted: March 17th, 2011 8:05 PM

I for one am very happy I am not in a profession where every yahoo "knows" their salary. And I put that in quotes because, last time I checked the home page of that site, there is a letter complaining about how the people reporting their salary got it wrong. It's not there now, but here is some info:

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 7:59 PM

@Irving School Parent. I read your link. Nice, how is it determined that D97 requires 1/2, 1, or 2 people with MLS to do these tasks on a daily basis? Can not one individual with MLS rotate between Irving and Lincoln, etc? Or 2 MLS people rotate between 3 schools? D97 spends more than just about every district on a per pupil basis - that won't change even if this ref fails. Today's economy/society demands that we do better with our limited resources.

Irving School Parent  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 7:43 PM

Informative article linked on the Vote Yes website, "Librarians in D97 - they Do What?"

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 8:40 AM

@Ben. Agree, but what are the metrics for this? As I've stated many times, my kids are recent D97 grads (youngest is a jr at OPRF) and, trust me, top students. When I have inquired about their "media specialists" - they give me nearly blank faces. WHY can't D97 provide "tech" services, etc for less? OP has lots of foreclosures AND struggling residents/businesses - I love Noel's thought-process regarding "outside the box" appraisals of status quo. Want our "energy" in future? Then please vote NO.


Posted: March 17th, 2011 6:53 AM

One fact that is often overlooked is that in many Oak Park schools, the librarian also serves as the media specialist (i.e., the technology teacher). Even if you argue that librarians aren't important (which is a questionable argument to make), it is difficult to argue technology isn't important. Kids can teach themselves how to use facebook. What the media specialists offer are lessons in internet safety, reliable sources, and other lessons that equip kids for the future.

Alan Reed from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 17th, 2011 5:32 AM

I certainly agree that librarians are a necessary and important part of providing children an outstanding education. However, in D97 we have at least one librarian making over $140K per year! Now, she's very experienced and has a Master's degree...but, wow, she gets paid about twice what the average teacher gets paid! I'd love to be able to pay EVERYONE more, of course, but at some point when we're asking taxpayers for more money, some tough decisions need to be made. Sad, but necessary.

Libbey Paul from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 10:10 PM

@chet21 - Appreciate your perspective about reform -- and agree that we will have to think creatively in the years to come about how we educate our children. However, I don't believe a no vote leads to reform or ultimately will lead to better schools. Reform will take time, thoughtful consideration, and enough money to maneuver. I believe both our board and leadership are committed to reform - and we have to stay at the table even after the vote on April 5.

Summarizing CAOP's plan  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 10:05 PM

Maybe we could buy all the kids iPads if you think that's the way for them to learn. Get rid of the principals, get rid of the librarians, get rid of teachers with master's degrees (that ONLY shows benefit for those irrelevant math and science classes), each family paying $5K in addition to their taxes, get rid of unions, get rid of those unnecessary 300 non-certified staff members (we don't need custodians. lunch servers or secretaries), and many more. I love your ideas!

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 9:48 PM

Kids actually learn to read faster when using a smart device or a computer because they are forced to read, read, read and in turn, write or type. In fact there is a debate as to the value of most school librarians. If we teach kids to ask the right questions, they can use the internet to get the right answers or answers that are good enough. 21st century schools system have reduced 'feeding of facts' to learners and instead are focusing on 'Thinking Based Learning'.

Noel Kuriakos  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 9:44 PM

Just curious, did your children LEARN to read from librarians or from their parents? Can you cite the research you talk about? With amazing services such as Google books and other estores like on that on itunes, more kids are learning to read using the ipad and other electronic medium. Books as we know it will diminish in their usefulness when our kids are adults. 21st century, learner centric frameworks leverages technology, to improve learning out comes. Cont.

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 9:35 PM

@Irving School Parent. You are not answering my question. I'm guessing that they can learn the DD system in, what, an hour or two of library time? K-5 means that they had 6 years for those 2 hours of necessary prep. The 8 K-5 libraries have 8 librarians. Can not D97 "surpass" your "expectations" if there are only 4 or 6? Why can't OPPL librarians teach the DD system when they take over the libraries? DD system isn't the equivalent of physics or calculus. Can we not do the same for less?

Irving School Parent  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 9:21 PM

Very well said! I'm impressed by the skills my 5th grader is learning during his library time. The other day we went to the (public) library and he was able to take us straight the Dewey Decimal section for a topic we were interested in. He's learning the research skills he'll need through college. (ok, and the "Dewey Decimal Rap") Our schools constantly surpass my expectations, and our talented librarian is no exception.

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 8:49 PM

Yes, libraries are important, but the question is can we deliver the same for less? Do the K-5's need all day staffing? Why not half-day? Can't the classroom teacher read the story? Cost is factor. With benefits, the avg cost for this position, which is 6-7 hrs a day & 9 months, is $85K . That sum is significant. Why not privatize libraries? Aren't OPPL librarians excellent? State law says "no?" Then have Harmon introduce change. We need new thoughts and ideas. ONLY by voting NO will that occur.


Posted: March 16th, 2011 8:29 PM

Wonderfully stated! School libraries are a core component of education and should be supported fully! Yes to full time librarians and yes to the referendum!!!!

Parrish from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 6:58 PM

Well said!! We agree and will support the referendum! We have nothing but good things to say about district 97.

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