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More money isn’t everything

Monday, Jun 27, 2016

* This is entirely insane

Money may be tight in Bellwood School District 88, but the school board still managed to quietly divert more than $105,000 from an education fund to replenish a retirement account its superintendent drained years ago.

The money added 20 years of service to the Illinois Teachers Retirement System account for Superintendent Rosemary Hendricks. That change, under a TRS formula, would increase annual pension benefits to $77,000 from an estimated $14,000. Taxpayers across the state will pick up the tab, potentially for years to come. […]

District 88’s attorney said Hendricks, 66, is required to repay the $105,504 to the district, but the district has not provided a copy of that agreement or any details about a repayment plan or said whether she must pay interest. […]

Local tax revenue has been flat in Bellwood, and last year the state sent additional aid to the district, which has spent nearly twice as much on administration than the average district in Illinois, state records show. Student achievement lags far behind statewide averages as well. […]

Hendricks was dismissed during her first two terms — in 2008 and 2012 — and the district paid her $120,000 in legal and other settlements. As of last school year, Hendricks had earned more through suing her employers or getting bought out of contracts since the 2008-09 school year than through the time she spent working, state records show.

More state money is obviously not the answer for that particular district (and others).

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Hoping for Rational Thought - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 9:54 am:

    I read that article this morning and it almost made me physically sick. In my rural school district if the Board did something that stupid they would be run out of town AND APPROPRIATELY so. I would hope voters who now know this is going on would demand more from their school board

  2. - Now What? - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 9:58 am:

    Wish more people would see that the egregious actions of BOE’s and abuse of TRS “rules” are at the administrative level, not by teachers. The actions by Bellwood are not uncommon by other districts that pad administrative pay and years of experience to either attract, or dismiss, superintendents. If the governor were to “turnaround” this practice, and leave teachers and their unions alone, he would probably get more support.

  3. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 10:06 am:

    CPS is not the only district with management and corruption issues, as Barbara Byrd-Bennett attested.

    Money isn’t everything in those situations, and the students are the real ones who =pay= for it.

  4. - JS Mill - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 10:07 am:

    = The actions by Bellwood are not uncommon by other districts that pad administrative pay and years of experience to either attract, or dismiss, superintendents.=

    Actually, the actions of District 88’s BoE are incredibly uncommon. Even the Tribbies demonstrated that. 9 supt’s in 14 years?

    I will grant you that tha current superintendent is unethical and should not have a job in education, but what Board hires the person, that sued them, three times? The residents of that district have allowed this to happen and bare responsibility as well.

    The TRS rules are monkeyed with by teachers as well, and there are far more teachers than admin.

    The Trib did a nice job of highlighting specific abuse, don’t paint everyone with such a broad brush.

  5. - Shemp - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 10:08 am:

    “In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve.” Sometimes that is very, very painful. I feel bad for the good people of the school district.

  6. - t sowell - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 10:13 am:

    Make the local school districts pay for their own Retirement costs as is done with IMRF. Then the sweetheart deals and 300K plus salaries for superintendent’s will go away as the local Boards will be held accountable.

  7. - Sir Reel - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 10:16 am:

    Illinois has 850 or more school districts. Many more than other large population states.

    Perhaps it makes it more difficult to shed light on this type of insider corruption.

    Then again CPS is very large and should be under a spotlight but it isn’t doing well.

  8. - a - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 10:19 am:

    The words “school board …managed to quietly divert”

    The school board is not teachers or anyone associated with Education. These people decided to do this for an administrator. Do people understand that administrators negotiate their benefits/wages in an independent contract with school boards? Has anyone looked at the highest paid “educators” lately? The highest paid pensioners in this state?

    Leave teachers, or the front line assembly line workers who actually do the work alone. Administrative deals are massive amounts of money that the staff has nothing to do with. Somehow, though, I’m sure the evil teachers will be blamed for being some part of this when they know and can do nothing about it.

  9. - JS Mill - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 10:53 am:

    @ t sowell-

    No, they will not.

    You seem to think that 300k salaries for superintendents is widespread. You may want to do a bit of research. They are outliers. And districts that pay like that will continue to do so even if “cost shift” happens.

  10. - JS Mill - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 10:58 am:

    @ a- ” Administrative deals are massive amounts of money that the staff has nothing to do with.”

    Massive? Seriously, get a clue.

    You ever peruse a school district budget and see how much total staff compensation goes to teachers? Admin is less than 5% and they serve on the same “front lines” as the teachers.

    And yes, admin sometimes bargain their contracts individually, but that is how it works if you are not represented by a union. Most increases are consistent with teacher increase percentages and are not guaranteed every year as teachers are.

    Not a shot at teachers, simply some of the differences between the two.

    And these cheap shots at admin are part of the business when you have busters like District 88 doing what they do. Similar to attacks on teachers because of the misdeeds of a few. Both completely bogus.

  11. - illinois bob - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 11:24 am:

    This kind of abuse is commonplace throughout the suburbs. Lincoln Way HS district 210 used to be one of my models for quality school operations ten years ago. I’d done some substituting there in the late 90s, and was amazed by how well disciplined and managed it was, and Wylie was one of the best in getting “bang for the buck”.

    Then, the temptation for money and ego got the better of the leadership and the board, and now they’re in deep financial trouble and they’re under investigation for some very “CPS looking” abuses.

    To paraphrase, it may be easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than for administrators and boards to operate their schools prudently when there’s so much money and potential for abuse in the system….

  12. - Illinois Bob - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 11:53 am:

    Bellwood is a piker compared to the abuses you see down in Rich and Thornton Townships.

    The politically incestuous relationships down there in Harvey and Park Forest, where one political entity hires Board members from the other entity for ridiculously fat salaries, is a system that would embarrass even a Chicago alderman.

    Blondean Davis retired from CPS and went down there to an elementary school district, with her fat CPS pension, ta make ridiculous money in administration down there.

    Once again, you’ve gotta blame the voters who keep electing these folks and failing them and their children.

  13. - Anonymous - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 12:57 pm:


    With all due respect, you will not see a classroom teacher making 300k anywhere, ever. The reason teacher salaries take up so much of the payroll is because there are more of them. Haven’t you noticed that? Most teachers dream of hitting 100k by the end of 35, 38 years with advanced degrees and constant, ongoing coursework paid for out of their own pockets. Most districts in the state don’t have 100k on their salary schedule.

  14. - City Zen - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 3:28 pm:

    Just one of the problems when a pension for life is based on the final 4 years of service even though those final 4 years bear little resemblance to the entirety of a career.

    According to the article, Hendricks cashed out 20 yrs of TRS service in 1998 (mostly teaching, some admin), then went to work for CPS for 7 years (asst principal), then became a superintendent in various districts. Now she gets to use her $165,000 superintendent salary as a determiner for her lifetime benefit.

    Not fair for the rank-and-file teachers.

  15. - Jake From Elwood - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 4:01 pm:

    Today’s Trib had three of these stories in the first six pages. Bellwood, Lincoln-Way and Matteson School District with stories of wild expenditures for pensions, conferences and the like.
    Focus here General Assembly, Focus here!

  16. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 4:33 pm:

    Just to be clear, the offender here wasn’t getting 20 years of unearned service credit, or “air time” in the vernacular. Somewhere along the way, she took a refund of her TRS employee contributions (perhaps during one of those times while she was fired before getting hired back..) paid in for years prior to her Bellwood employment.

    Inquiring minds would want to know if she paid taxes on this payment.

  17. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 7:18 pm:

    Sometimes old AA needs an edit feature on his comments.

    What I meant to say was that although repayment of prior service credit is generally not a taxable event for the employee, it sure is when the employer pays for it regardless of the source of the employer’s funds.

    Additionally, I call “Baloney” on Now What’s unproven assertion that school districts are creating service credit out of thin air to attract administrators. First of all, it’s illegal. Secondly, it won’t get past the pension system, CTPF or TRS.

  18. - Jibba - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 9:37 pm:

    Every rank and file employee (state or teacher) despises these insider deals. It makes the system less solvent and threatens our safe retirement. Also, note that the abuses are at high levels where rules can be broken or “negotiated,” never at the rank and file level.

  19. - btowntruth from forgottonia - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 9:46 pm:

    You would be surprised how many school boards in Illinois forget that the Superintendent works for THEM and not the other way around.

  20. - justacitizen - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 9:58 pm:

    ===Uh, no - in 1995 the Republican governor and GA gave control of CPS to the mayor.
    And what does that have to do with equitable state funding?
    The city didn’t secede.===

    But pensions funding was part of the deal and the city/mayor knew that.

  21. - The young gov - Monday, Jun 27, 16 @ 10:39 pm:

    I almost chocked when I read this this morning:
    Hendricks declined to comment on her taxpayer-funded compensation. “This is personal business,” she said.

    Ah, public service. Ain’t nothing personal and that’s the vow we accept.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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