A Message to District 15 from State Sen. Matt Murphy and Rep. Tom Morrison
We appreciate the board’s stated goal of planning out future expenses to save money. However, locking the district, area taxpayers and future school boards into a 10-year labor contract is not the way to proceed.
This unprecedented contract was completed behind closed doors giving taxpayers no real opportunity to weigh in. It provides a 2.5 percent annual pay increase for the first four years and 4 percent raises for each of the next six years, utilizing provisions in current state law to boost teachers’ pensions. The new contract also increases sick days from 15 to 24 per year – giving teachers quicker access to early retirement, putting an even greater strain on the State’s pension system.
But controlling pension costs is exactly what state government must do to get its fiscal house in order. Sincere efforts are underway to limit end-of-career salary spikes and other benefits sweeteners for public employees that are strangling the state budget and its taxpayers. There is no way this Board can anticipate the success of those efforts – especially over ten years. If the bipartisan negotiations in Springfield lead to reforms – the taxpayers of Palatine District 15 will be on the hook for greater costs.
Currently, District 15 gets about $20 million annually from the State of Illinois. If there is anything certain in Springfield these days is that nothing is certain. School funding reform, potential formula changes and budget constraints may impact the District’s share of funding – leaving District 15 on the hook again.
Locally, median income for private-sector workers in the Palatine area has grown only 0.68 percent from 2009 to 2014 which is less than the rate of inflation. In other words, area taxpayers are not exactly in a position to bail out the school district should the school struggle to pay for these contract benefits.
We strongly believe that teachers deserve to receive a fair contract, to be well-compensated and to be provided good benefits for the essential work that they do; but this school board is making promises that it will not be able to keep in the years to come.
We urge you to step back from this contract and negotiate a more realistic, fiscally sound proposal for the students, parents and taxpayers of District 15.