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Nice Raise for District 65 Superintendent
Raises for me, not for thee. This is not going to end well during union negotiations.
FOIA Gras is a free newsletter run by Tom Hayden that explores various topics in local Evanston Governance, especially around School District 65 (Evanston/Skokie). I publish and share all my data and reports. Subscribing is free, so please subscribe or share!
District 65 finally published its annual Salary and Compensation reports for the 2022-23 school year on their website. They were late this year; it was due on October 1st, 2022, and by law, they must update their website before then. They eventually updated, though. The nice thing about the Salary and Compensation reports is that you don't have to file a FOIA for them - you can download them online or use my nicely organized spreadsheet. Using my spreadsheet, you'll find I have split everyone into one of four buckets: administrators, principals, teachers, and IMRFemployees.
I am interested in the folks on the District 65 Org Chart, who make up the leadership team (they call it a "cabinet"). I want to know the year-over-year changes in compensation for the people on this team. I want to compare it to the prior year's org chart. Here it is:
Overall, total comp for folks on the team went up by $267,043, an increase of 16% year over year. The most considerable change was a 14% raise for Dr. Horton. They also removed an executive assistant and added a Assistant to the Cabinet / Chief of Staff. Oddly enough, the staff that work directly with instruction all got 3% cost-of-living increases, while HR, Comms, and Finance took nice raises. Perhaps these are contractual raises, I don’t know.
I don't feel great publishing people's compensation or job titles. However, I don't think anyone, especially the School Board, is paying attention. In the 9/19/22 Board Meeting, the Salary and Compensation report was included with the meeting agenda but not discussed. In that same meeting, however, they approved an updated statement on the relationship between the Board and Superintendent, where (I believe) the board continues to abdicate its role in favor of too high-level vision stuff. A board member should be asking, "Does a School District with 6,000 students need a Cabinet and a Chief of Staff? Do larger districts have such a structure? How can we optimize more funds going directly to instruction? What kinds of salary increases do we see in other districts? How will this impact our union negotiations coming up?"
I've seen directors on startups with ten employees asking harder questions than this board is asking!
Where does this leave us? The Teachers Union contract ends in the 2023-2024 school year, and the District is looking at some pretty dire financial projections before accounting for significant union contract changes. Inflation is around 7% or more. The teachers have complained for years about the lack of adequate support staff, yet Dr. Horton hires a Chief of Staff! Remember last year when they laid off the Reading Support specialists? It is unclear how they can reconcile the financial situation with the teacher's (fair) demands for at least a cost-of-living increase and support staff. How does Dr. Horton and his team sit across the table from the Union and negotiate when he's taking a 14% year-over-year raise, money is flying out the door for pet projects, and he's increasing the size of his support staff? If the Teachers strike, I can't say I would blame them. The optics here are just atrocious.
On a related note, I was happy to see Evanston residents overwhelmingly support ranked-choice voting last night. First, too bad that this doesn't apply to District 65 or 202 elections. Second, it is poignant that 18% of voters opposed RCV; I wonder if it is the same 16-18% pluralities that dominate our school board elections? The most extreme candidates can turn out their supporters just enough to squeak by in primaries and races with large fields and we all suffer.
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Update: My calculations for “Total Compensation” or “Total Salary” consist of Base Salary + Pension Contributions.
Update 2: I cleaned up some language that I thought was too much of my own opinion instead of facts. I am an citizen journalist and still trying to figure out what types of evidence to present or not present and sometimes, I make mistakes and try to learn. It is never my intent to identify any specific non-public person.
My understanding of IMRF is that these employees are governed by the municipal workers union and thus, have a different set of reporting and pension obligations.