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Illinois school administration costs twice as much as other states

Tuesday, Apr 16, 2019

* ChalkBeat

It may not be the biggest state, nor the one with the most students, but Illinois leads the nation in school district spending on administrators. Even amid a looming statewide financial crisis, the state’s 852 districts spent more than $1 billion in fiscal year 2016, the most in the nation, according to a newly released analysis.

A report from the Metropolitan Planning Council analyzed administrative spending in Illinois and compared it with other states. […]

Illinois also spends twice as much per pupil on school administration as the national average — $544 in Illinois to $226 nationwide. Measured per pupil, that is the third highest rate in the country, nearly double New York at $349 and nearly five times as much as California, where admin costs are $95 per student.

Not only do most districts spend a lot on administration, Illinois has 852 districts, more than many other states. About one-quarter of those districts operate only one school. Roughly 4 percent serve fewer than 100 students.

The reasons for that are complicated, says Josh Ellis, vice president of the council. Some rural school districts in Illinois serve sparsely populated areas with few students. Historically, some school districts were formed a tool to to enforce racial segregation.

* From the MPC

In FY 2016, Illinois spent $1,105,435,000 on general administration expenses, making us the only state in the country with more than $1 billion general administration expenses, despite serving the fifth most students. For comparison, Illinois spent 33% more than California, despite their public-school system serving over three times as many students.

What would Illinois districts save if they could reduce general administration spending to the national average? They would spend approximately $459 million per year, a savings of approximately $645 million. This would be a savings of $318 per pupil. […]

One of the drivers of administration costs is the number of students a district serves. As of July 1, 2018, there were 852 school districts in Illinois. There are 211 districts that serve only one school. There were 31 school districts with fewer than 100 students enrolled and 463 districts with fewer than 1,000 students enrolled. For example, Morris Illinois, a town with approximately 15,000 residents, has 3 elementary school districts and one high school district. Each elementary school district only has one school. Among the elementary districts, one district only had 86 students, while the other two have an enrollment level over 800. […]

On average, multi-school districts spend only $484 per student on general administration compared to $842 per student for single school districts, a disparity of 74%. A large portion of this savings represents Chicago Public Schools, which spends $349 per student on general administration.

* What other states have done

In New Jersey, boards of education have been authorized to share their superintendents and school business administrators with other boards and to “subcontract” the services of their school business administrators to other school districts and have done so since 1996.

The State of New York also utilizes administrative service sharing through Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), and differential state aid encouraging sharing services with poorer districts.

The State of Texas authorizes Shared Services Arrangements that allow for a shared district unit or a shared fund in accordance with the shared services arrangement districts’ agreement.

The State of Ohio explicitly shares district staff, in particular, a treasurer, and has demonstrated cost savings. In Hamilton County, the Reading City Schools and Three Rivers Local School District reported annual saving of about $55,000 to $66,000 in each school district sharing a treasurer. The Wyoming City Schools and the Oak Hills Local School District report saving $45,000 for Oak Hills and $60,000 for Wyoming sharing a treasurer.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

78 Comments
  1. - anon2 - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:22 am:

    There should be a bipartisan call for reform. The problem is too many districts, the most of any state, and too many districts with one school. If the General Assembly doesn’t have the courage to require consolidation, even in little Morris with three elementary districts, then at least authorize sharing of administrators.


  2. - Juvenal - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:23 am:

    Eliminate Elementary and high school districts already.


  3. - Donnie Elgin - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:24 am:

    All that money spent on so many administrators salaries does not seem to help in terms of results. Illinois ranked 24th on education by US NEWS.

    https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/illinois


  4. - A Jack - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:24 am:

    Sharing Administrators may be a good way for small school districts to survive without consolidating. Downstate Illinois has lost a number of smaller school districts over the years.


  5. - Sue - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:24 am:

    One word to describe this is Inexcusable


  6. - Steve - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:24 am:

    Great story when some people are pushing a progressive income tax for more revenue.


  7. - City Zen - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:29 am:

    Paging Dr. Mill, Dr. JS Mill, please report to your designated administrative zone.


  8. - JB13 - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:32 am:

    But we’re cut to the bone. There’s nothing left to trim. Won’t even make a dent.


  9. - A non mouse - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:33 am:

    A very similar report was published in 2017, and what’s happened since then? It has gotten worse. $518/student to $544. Very similar with undisputed huge cost savings that would occur by forcing districts to pool healthcare expenses. Again nothing happens, but let’s give Springfield a graduated tax so hat they can continue to manage the budget so wisely.


  10. - Fav human - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:34 am:

    One wonders how much of that administrative overhead is mandated by the state of Illinois? Like all the qualifications needed to be a regional superintendent? Which to be honest isn’t even needed…


  11. - PJ - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:34 am:

    ==On average, multi-school districts spend only $484 per student on general administration compared to $842 per student for single school districts, a disparity of 74%. A large portion of this savings represents Chicago Public Schools, which spends $349 per student on general administration.==

    Those Chicago leeches, stealing all of our … wait, what?

    ==Morris Illinois, a town with approximately 15,000 residents, has 3 elementary school districts==

    I hope that when these podunk towns finally secede from Illinois, they get all their waste, fraud and abuse in order. Our thoughts and prayers are with you from efficiently-administrated Chicago.


  12. - The Dude Abides - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:34 am:

    It’s insane that our administration costs are more than California. In response to Steve, even if the state undertakes District reform and after a few years sees significant savings on the order of $500-$600 million,income taxes still have to be raised. Not raising the tax on poorer or middle income taxpayers simply makes it an easier sell.


  13. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:38 am:

    Sell it Downstate. School district consolidation has been the third-rail of rural Illinois politics for decades.

    Merging counties would also make a lot of sense in many places, if you’re into administrative savings. Forty-five counties have fewer than 20,000 people; fifteen of those have fewer than 10,000.

    Maybe those Eastern Bloc commissars will propose massive Downstate governmental-unit consolidation as a transitional phase to forming their new state.

    But I doubt it.


  14. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:38 am:

    ===But we’re cut to the bone. There’s nothing left to trim===

    That’s local government, not state. Yes, the state can and should force the locals to do something, and it would likely save state money, but it’s still local government.


  15. - Generic Drone - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:38 am:

    And that folks is what rank and file state employees have been saying for years. Is not the front line workers.


  16. - lincoln's beard - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:43 am:

    the articles don’t say where all this money is coming from. is general state revenue being redirected to pay for these tiny districts, or is it just local property taxes?


  17. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:46 am:

    ===the articles don’t say where all this money is coming from===

    The Google is your friend.

    The state’s share of education spending is less than 20 percent of all funding, depending how you figure.


  18. - Consol - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:48 am:

    I believe districts can already share admins


  19. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:50 am:

    Richmond’s high and grade school districts already share administrative personnel.


  20. - anon2 - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:52 am:

    It sounds as if the political opposition to required consolidation is from downstate, where the secessionists live. The ones who talk about all the waste in the county of Cook, but who will fight to the death to preserve their single-school districts.


  21. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:52 am:

    Pooh-poohing the cost of administration, without a plan to shrink the number of districts or at least form a study group, is pretty meaningless. It’s easy to say somebody should do something, it’s much harder to address the reasons we haven’t done something already.


  22. - Original Rambler - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:53 am:

    On top of that, education administrators are paid at a significantly higher rate than regular State agency administrators.


  23. - west wing - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:54 am:

    This is yet another barometer of our state’s failure! Administration costs need to be SLASHED.

    I urge Governor Pritzker to lead the way on this … it would leave a lasting and positive legacy for our children.


  24. - cannon649 - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:54 am:

    Note are many highly paid people in admin. They compete with each district. Also note their benefits are greater than the unions folks - long time issue brought up at the time when taxes are being reviewed.


  25. - State Sen. Clay Davis - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:57 am:

    Is there a meaningful pension impact here?


  26. - Keyrock - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:58 am:

    Local government consolidation— including but not limited to school districts, has been a significant source of waste (and patronage) in Illinois. Fixing it is part of the solution to the pension problem.

    The state government doesn’t directly pay for all the waste in local government, but the governor and the General Assembly can take steps to end much of it.

    It will be easier to convince taxpayers to pay more if steps are taken to cut obvious sources of waste, and if they sense that the government is being run efficiently. Several third rails need to have the power cut in order to address the ongoing budget/pension problem.

    Lori Lightfoot and, for that matter, Donald Trump, won in part because the voters were sick of business as usual.

    It would be smart politics to appoint a commission now to look into local government consolidation so that when the opportunity for a big solution comes — after the passage of the progressive income tax — addressing local government consolidation can be part of the package that”s on the table.

    The savings, by themself, are not that large relative to the state budget, but they are not insignificant. The psychological and political importance of addressing this longstanding problem is significant,


  27. - Juvenal - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:59 am:

    === Sharing Administrators may be a good way for small school districts to survive without consolidating. ===

    Actually, all they are doing is kicking the can down the road.

    Also, imagine the juxtaposition of a part time supe advocating one policy in one district and the opposite policy across the street.

    or what happens when a municipality or a county has a policy that will disproportionately benefit one district while hurting the others…say, like locating a TIF?

    Or what if one district decides to fire the part time superintendent…are the other two just gonna pick up the extra salary?

    Consolidate districts. preserve board representation by electing board members from districts contiguous with the old elementary districts, and place the high school school district seats into at-large seats on the board.

    This is not difficult.


  28. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 12:03 pm:

    ===of our state’s failure===

    It’s actually the failure of local voters to make a difference in their own communities to the point where the state probably has to step in to fix it.

    Local control ain’t always good.


  29. - Sue - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 12:12 pm:

    The meaningful pension impact is that administrators are TRS members and when you have too many highly paid people retiring at 70 percent of their salary it hurts us all


  30. - Typical - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 12:12 pm:

    It is easy for the super to negotiate their salary but when the teachers do it, school boards look at their salaries in the aggregate.


  31. - rejjs - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 12:20 pm:

    Has anyone looked at the administrative costs in Ford Heights?

    Poorest district in the state, one of the lowest performing in the state. But 3rd highest spending per student in the state! Behind in teacher-student ratio, but among the highest in avg. administrator salary!

    Illinois’ problems can’t be solved by more spending, because they’re mostly about governance.


  32. - MrX - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 12:21 pm:

    School boards have ceded too much power to superintendents.

    I remember at Lincoln-Way HS former, and now federally indicted, superintendent Lawrence Wyliee made his buddy Tom Eddy deputy superintendent. Together the two of them had compensation packages over half a million dollars. This was to manage 4 high schools, one of which was brand new when they closed ot because of Wyliee cooking the district’s books.

    Eddy’s job was described as being over personnel, but the district also has a personnel director postion that also paid over six figures.


  33. - Huh? - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 12:23 pm:

    What?? Consolidate school districts? Take away local control from a democratically elected school board? What are people going to think when they’re asked to give up a rung on the political ladder.


  34. - State Sen. Clay Davis - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 12:25 pm:

    - Sue - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 12:12 pm:
    The meaningful pension impact is that administrators are TRS members and when you have too many highly paid people retiring at 70 percent of their salary it hurts us all

    Bingo. Change the incentives, change the behavior.


  35. - Elliott Ness - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 12:26 pm:

    Groundhog Day? Not gonna happen…..


  36. - Galena Guy - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 12:27 pm:

    “That’s local government, not state’.
    Being out here in the sticks, you can bet that the locals will find some way to blame Springfield. Matter of fact, there is a meet and greet tonight with Andrew Chesney, the state rep. I think I’ll bring this up and see if my prediction is true.


  37. - Marseilles Mike - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 12:40 pm:

    These studies compare the cost of superintendents. They do not compare the cost of a superintendent at a small school who does many jobs to the large school superintendent and all of the assistants in categories other that “general administration”. This is a fantasy that fits preconceived notions.


  38. - Fighter of Foo - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 12:53 pm:

    This is a local issue to pay these ridiculous salaries. But, a state issue for paying the pensions. So, don’t forget that point when Stevenson and new trier pay six figures to teachers to teach AP classes that your school can’t offer. You get to pay their pension at least!


  39. - Just Observing - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 12:58 pm:

    ===But we’re cut to the bone. There’s nothing left to trim===

    === ===That’s local government, not state. Yes, the state can and should force the locals to do something, and it would likely save state money, but it’s still local government. === ===

    All the locals say the same… nothing to cut… they are all fiscally conservative… being efficient, etc., etc.


  40. - OneMan - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 12:59 pm:

    Ok lets take this a part at a time.

    == These studies compare the cost of superintendents. ==
    Well this study appears to look at overall administrative costs, not supperentendant costs, so that address that statement.

    == They do not compare the cost of a superintendent at a small school who does many jobs to the large school superintendent and all of the assistants in categories other that “general administration”. This is a fantasy that fits preconceived notions. ==

    Besides the earlier statment that this isn’t a ’superintendant cost’ study lets look at this argument.

    The ‘doing the jobs of multiple people’ argument is used from time to time to rationalize government official salaries (particularly elected officials, he is mayor and liqour commissioner). Someone may have a wider scope of work it may not rationalize a higher salary.

    Reguardless, it seems that if a larger SD is more financially efficent it should be imperatvie to consolidate SDs, the reality of that (I don’t want my kids to go to school with those kids, my SD has a much higher EAV and we don’t want to subsidize that poorer district) is tougher.


  41. - Smitty Irving - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 1:06 pm:

    As I said last May “Outside Greater Chicagoland, how about the Nevada / Florida model? 1 school district per county.” Don’t anticipate being any more popular today. https://capitolfax.com/2018/05/24/shouting-into-the-wind/


  42. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 1:07 pm:

    ==This is not difficult.==

    Until you realize that district do not have contiguous boundaries, and that merging elementary and high school districts means moving some students to new districts. Until you discover that merging districts means significantly changing the tax levy for many of the property owners. Until you find that one political culture despises the other and will not allow its votes to be diluted in the newly merged district. Until the administrators realize that they’re on the chopping block and start pounding those differences and stirring up animosity to keep their district separate and their jobs secure. Sure, easy peasy.


  43. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 1:21 pm:

    =Paging Dr. Mill, Dr. JS Mill, please report to your designated administrative zone.=

    My district has 2,600 students.

    Districts around the state are already sharing administrators and other personnel out of necessity and not just economics.

    Without a doubt there are places where intelligent consolidation should happen. But communities simply refuse to make it happen. These same communities are not going to share superintendents etc. And who will take the jobs? It is hard enough to work for one Board of Education much less two or (god forbid) three.

    The cost of mental health care will definitely go up and offset savings. (a little snark there)

    Everybody wants consolidation. There are many reasonable consolidations that should happen.

    But large geographic consolidations in sparsely populated areas are not good for kids.

    Very few out there understand the role of superintendent and make assumptions based on the size of the district. The job is not easier because a district is smaller. In that scenario the superintendent usually has more tasks to complete versus a very large district where the supt. is more of a manager.
    =The meaningful pension impact is that administrators are TRS members and when you have too many highly paid people retiring at 70 percent of their salary it hurts us all=

    Boy, you don’t ever check your facts do you? What pain and injury (hurt) are you feeling? I am sure you think you are suffering financial injury but that isn’t what you stated.


  44. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 1:22 pm:

    ==that merging elementary and high school districts means moving some students to new districts

    This is probably the best and most succinct description of the problem.

    In Bloomington Normal there was a referendum on merging District 87 (Bloomington proper essentially) and Unit 5 (Normal and surrounding areas including most of the outlying areas around Bloomington).

    Much of the fight came down to people in Normal being scared of African-Americans in Bloomington.

    In Bloomington, Illinois. Think about that for a minute.


  45. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 1:24 pm:

    —-But large geographic consolidations in sparsely populated areas are not good for kids.

    I think this is right–while there are downstate areas that could consolidate (see Bloomington-Normal) much of the issue is in elementary versus high school districts that should be in one system.


  46. - Fighter of Foo - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 1:31 pm:

    For all the reasons above and a governor who plans to short change the pensions another 1 Billion. When the choice is paying pensions and basic services the state will appeal to the federal government for relief. Pay attention to Puerto Rico and the super bankruptcy that’s proposed. I’d like someone to run the numbers once and for all to show when we are insolvent. 10 more years of the same not paying pensions? 20 years? There’s a mathematical certainty.


  47. - I Miss Bentohs - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 1:47 pm:

    The Google is your friend.
    ====
    I disagree Rich. For topics like this, so much is partisan information that it is impossible to get a consistent answer and hard to figure out what is the real answer. Biased facts have become more the norm than facts.


  48. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 1:57 pm:

    –10 more years of the same not paying pensions? 20 years? There’s a mathematical certainty.–

    How’s about one? The proposed FY20 budget allocates $7 billion to the pension funds.


  49. - Fighter of Foo - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:17 pm:

    Word and that’s how much less than needed to become towards solvent. The scary thing anyone open minded that grips to but the “state constitution “ says argument. It’s not been dealt with in a serious way by either party. Spend more. Reality is, there’s no easy answer to this fiscal mess. Other than walking away from it eventually. The state would force consolidation on counties if they were serious. The 10-20% of education funds. Zero out. They would pull the levers. They don’t.


  50. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:26 pm:

    Consolidation would definitely help. It is difficult to simply share administrators because the amount of paperwork each district has to file. An administrator who oversees two districts would have twice as much paperwork to file with the state. Consolidating the districts reduces the overall work.

    The biggest problem with rural consolidation is the loss of local attendance centers. If a town loses its school, the population of people with children declines as well. Unfortunately, maintaining large schools in slowly declining rural districts is a big cost sink, and replacing them is not fiscally practical. Consolidation of these districts usually results in the construction of a large central school and the closure of the schools in each town.

    Folks in small, rural school districts understand that consolidation leads to loss of the school in their town which hastens the decline of the town. That seems to be a primary driver of opposition to consolidation. If there were a way to retain small local attendance centers for K-3 or K-5, and then consolidate the older kids into larger, centralized buildings, there might be more support for consolidation.


  51. - Liandro - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:40 pm:

    @Rich:

    “It’s actually the failure of local voters to make a difference in their own communities to the point where the state probably has to step in to fix it.”

    A caveat for you Rich. The state controls the parameters under which a local government can consolidate. For example, I’ve seen multiple legal opinions on how a city could consolidate with another local government. It’s massively complicated, and in some cases the process is actually poisonous to a good outcome.

    Given how much state statute impacts what is possible, and the process (and pitfalls) of how to get there, it’s not correct to put the blame entirely on voters or local governments.

    There are plenty of local problems heavily impacted by state statue (public safety pensions, government consolidations, unfunded mandates).


  52. - btowntruthfromforgottonia - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:56 pm:

    “Being out here in the sticks, you can bet that the locals will find some way to blame Springfield.”
    Galena Guy,I live in the sticks about an hour from Springfield.
    If your locals are like my locals,they will blame Chicago for it.
    It’s the default response around here,no matter what the facts are.


  53. - Marseilles MIke - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:03 pm:

    Two small districts share superintendent enrollment 475. with 1.8 principals. Total admin to student 1 to 173. Nearby mega district 97 total admin to 18105 students. 1 admin to 187 students.


  54. - Marseilles Mike - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:09 pm:

    OneMan. Look at the study. It doesn’t matter what the headline says.


  55. - City Zen - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:32 pm:

    Consolidation is difficult yet…what does everyone else do? Everyone else gets by on less. Ev. Ry. One.

    When the wealthiest state in the country manages to spend 5x less on admin costs than we do while managing more urban and desolate rural school districts over a larger area, it makes you wonder.


  56. - frsutrated GOP - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:34 pm:

    We need to understand that this may not be apples and apples. IN Illinois schools indidvuals are made administrators so they are out of teachers union and not limited by union contracts. Those same people in other states are not always administrators. There is no constancy in reporting state to state.
    Additionally, some states are easier to budget and manage because of state laws and formats. The level of laws and rule and regs as well as the financing format of Illinois adds a lot of costs.


  57. - west wing - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:34 pm:

    Radical reform is necessary. How about one super administrator per region — Southern IL, Southeastern IL, Central, Eastern, Western, Northwestern, NorthCentral … one per region who oversees the region’s schools …


  58. - Fighter of Foo - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:44 pm:

    West wing… we have that sort of. Regional office of Education. Except another layer of bureaucracy. No real value added.


  59. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:55 pm:

    –Much of the fight came down to people in Normal being scared of African-Americans in Bloomington.–

    The reason Hinsdale 86 built Hinsdale South rather than expand Hinsdale Central.

    Hinsdale South is 33% black and Hispanic. Hinsdale Central is 9%.


  60. - Amalia - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:56 pm:

    in the private sector (heck, even in the Roman Catholic Church) consolidation and closures occur on a regular basis. This must begin to be true of governmental units. We cannot continue on the path were townships that have small budgets and counties that contain few people and school districts that cover one school operate. high costs, bloated pensions, bad perceptions, power plays and lack of transparency all occur. Sunshine comes from clarity. Merger mania cannot come soon enough to governments. I suggest anyone calling out governments anywhere, including where one does not live, when there is bloat and waste. Streamline.


  61. - Hatch Rogers - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 4:07 pm:

    It seems like school superintends have a small fraternity going. Here in rural Illinois supers make $175K and up, up, up depending on the district. They stop buy merely to look for the next higher paying gig. This has got to stop.


  62. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 4:15 pm:

    =There’s a mathematical certainty.=

    Does your math include investment returns? Teachers paying into the system.

    The pensions have been hovering around 40% funded for 50 years. So your 20 or 10 year prediction is just a teeny bit of hyperbole. /s

    @ArchPundit- You may be right with regard to the motivation of McLean Unit 5 resident not wanting to consolidate with Bloomington 87. I am sure there is more than a little truth to it.

    In addition though, you would be creating a district of 18,000 students. You start to loose effectiveness when districts get too big.


  63. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 4:24 pm:

    =It seems like school superintends have a small fraternity going. Here in rural Illinois supers make $175K and up, up, up depending on the district. They stop buy merely to look for the next higher paying gig. This has got to stop.=

    List them.

    Why shouldn’t they be paid well, the job requires a degree beyond a Master’s and experience. The market determines the compensation.

    Many times the superintendents are recommending consolidation but boards and citizens won’t go along by the way.

    =school districts that cover one school operate. high costs, bloated pensions, bad perceptions, power plays and lack of transparency all occur. Sunshine comes from clarity.=

    Where to begin? Sunshine is provided by the internet, 30 minutes, and the willingness to attend a school board meeting.

    Any idea how many members of the public go to board meetings? Regardless of the size of district almost no one goes to school board meetings. They are publicly posted and open to the public yet nobody attends the meeting that governs where 60% to 70% of their property tax dollars go.

    But everyone has an opinion and a complaint.

    Property taxes are too high- but nobody goes to the meeting to be heard. I have been to hundreds of board meetings across 5 districts and can count on my fingers and toes how many people from the public actually have spoken.

    One district I taught in has 12,000 students. Nobody ever showed up at the meetings.

    You would think people would actually do something about e issue. More laws are not needs, people need to get off of their lazy backsides and quit gripping on social media and actually do something. I cannot tell you how many school boards cannot find people to run so they have to appoint someone.

    The real problem is apathy.


  64. - Fighter of Foo - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 4:26 pm:

    JS we took the same courses. We also both know, the rates of return don’t even pay a weeks worth of years of skipped payment by the state. You thinking that years of both sides kicking the can will result in full payments “someday” is more laughable. So you have a way to fund the 50-60% that’s missing? Yes, we put in the system. Free advice, look up Ponzi scheme. Does the definition fit? Is this not what madoff did?


  65. - Boris Goodenough - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 4:34 pm:

    In my opinion, consolidation and a total re-think of the current process would be the biggest game changer in the history of this state. I unequivocally say this as a spouse of a career educator. In no other (successful) business would this type of fractured system be allowed to operate.

    I know that I will never live long enough to see it happen, but unfortunately I don’t think that any one person or group is strong enough to carry the water to get this done.

    The inefficiencies of these 1 and 2 school districts - and I’m just talking about DuPage County - is mind blowing. Further, consider how some towns and neighborhoods are split apart by district boundaries that go back decades and even into the 1800’s in some cases.

    The time has come for a complete revamp.


  66. - Downstate Illinois - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 5:05 pm:

    I believe the Illinois School Code allows county treasurers to serve as treasurers for school districts but I’ve never heard of any doing so.


  67. - Fighter of Foo - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 5:40 pm:

    JS how about tier 2 pay the same amount as tier 1 and not the same benefit? That trick didn’t quite close the gap.


  68. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 6:38 pm:

    For those calling for studies and plans, it’s been done, many times, by many sources.

    Like I said, school consolidation has been the third rail in rural Illinois for some time.

    But I’d forgotten that smaller suburban school districts don’t want to get swallowed up by their neighbors. They like separate and unequal (but better) just fine.

    Here’s a link to a story on opposition to a statewide school consolidation plan from 1986. For you youngsters keeping score at home, that’s 33 years ago.

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1986-01-17-8601050248-story.html


  69. - revvedup - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 6:57 pm:

    First, get rid of the entire regional supervisor system, which is a useless layer of management. Second, consider allowing (not forcing) existing districts to merge without trying to change the district boundaries or the schools (”attendence centers”) themselves. Third, school boards have to start taking hard looks at their district staffing to cut out redundant or useless supervisory and management positions. Of course, politics will wreck these ideas, leaving people to beg the State to take charge of the mess…which will also fail.


  70. - It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 10:23 pm:

    Now wait a minute. Before we start pointing fingers at downstate OR Chicago for “being the hypocrite”, let’s be real here:

    I want to hear from someone from Winnetka or Kenilworth that they’re down with sending their kids to the same hypothetical county-wide school district as students living in Bellwood and in Harvey and in Chicago.

    I want to hear from Long Grove and Lincolnshire residents that they’d be okay with an all-county school district that also serves students in North Chicago and in Round Lake.

    Same for DuPage and McHenry and Kane and Will…

    It’d never happen. Much as the number of districts in IL create an avoidable cost, not sure I’m going to bet on substantial district consolidation in the Chicago metro area anytime soon, even as there are many who’ve expressed a desire for as much.

    Hard to deny that the perceptions of a school district drive local housing and commercial developments, as well as increased property values.


  71. - Anon - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:20 pm:

    When an attempt was made in the House last year to update the state’s 20-plus-year-old admin cost control statute, it was voted down 20-66, with unions and management solidly opposed: http://ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?GA=100&DocTypeID=HB&DocNum=4789&GAID=14&SessionID=91&LegID=110105. This one’s a lost cause in the present environment.


  72. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 11:36 pm:

    Cut whatever it takes. Illinois schools are not good at educating but they are very effective at spending tax money.


  73. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 8:27 am:

    ==Cut whatever it takes. ==

    Yeah, that’s a good plan. Let’s just cut willy nilly. Don’t put any thought into it. Just cut.

    I don’t disagree that things need to be looked at and we need to think about how we allocate costs differently. But just saying “cut whatever it takes” isn’t the answer.


  74. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 8:52 am:

    –Hard to deny that the perceptions of a school district drive local housing and commercial developments, as well as increased property values.–

    Of course.

    Right in the middle of highly populated Cook County is tiny little River Forest, with 11,000 people and their own public K-8 district of 1,400 students.

    They ain’t looking to merge that district with Melrose Park, Maywood, Forest Park or even Oak Park, not ever. Their whole point of being, and the foundation of their residential real estate values, is their own school district.

    There are districts like that all over the suburbs.


  75. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 9:19 am:

    =JS how about tier 2 pay the same amount as tier 1 and not the same benefit? That trick didn’t quite close the gap.=

    They don’t pay the same as Tier 1 and I never heard anyone say it was supposed to “close the gap” what ever gap you are talking about.

    Tier 2 was meant to reduce pensions and costs. It is and will. When Tier 1 annuitants die off the pension will cost the state nearly zero dollars.


  76. - It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 9:39 am:

    See, but there’s another aspect of this that hasn’t been addressed: if we have 852 school districts (which is not first in the country, as was previously mentioned, but certainly in the top five based on the last several years’ trends), how many school boards do we have?

    And, while I am all in favor for elected school boards, how many other local community services are governed by a committee the membership of which may or may not consist of citizens with any substantive experience in public education?

    Consider: how many hospital boards consist of individuals who are not medical professionals? Yeah, I get this is not an apple/orange comparison. Still, I think the significance of the services provided by each respective institution makes it a good comparator. Maybe there is something to the variance in who ultimately signs off on these administrative positions (and their rationale).

    And yeah, let’s also acknowledge that administrative salaries are highest and most plentiful in the ‘burbs. That would seem to follow the fact that the highest concentration of school districts per square mile relative to other regions of the state is in the Chicago metro area.


  77. - Truth Teller - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 7:31 am:

    Amazing how ignorant so many of you are around this topic. Do you know that 22 districts in IL already share admin services and that we already have authority in IL to do so. Also, has anyone looked at the data source for this report. It is from a federal source that doesn’t really break down the details nor are districts required to submit this information. Finally, there is no state to state standard for reporting of this type.


  78. - Rich Miller - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 9:45 am:

    ===Do you know that 22 districts in IL already share admin services and that we already have authority in IL to do so===

    22 out of how many?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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