Some day we hope to be able to write something positive about the Board and Administration of Park Ridge-Niles School District 64.
Today is not that day.
For those of you who haven’t paid attention to the clown car masquerading as representative government at D-64, this past Monday night the members of the Board of Education marched out of another of their regular and customary closed-session meetings behind president Tony “Who’s The Boss” Borrelli and collectively gave a giant middle finger to the District’s taxpayers.
First, the Board unanimously voted to give raises to all the administrators for whom Supt. Laurie Heinz requested them. While 1% raises based on little more than an increase in the Consumer Price Index (“CPI”) are stupid and irresponsible, the reported $48,763 cost is barely a rounding error to the District’s $70 million-plus budget. By D-64’s profligate standards, that’s almost frugal.
And according to the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate article about that meeting (“Raises approved for 19 District 64 administrators,” August 23), it came with a refreshingly honest admission from Ms. Heinz:
“Our [administrators] don’t have a union; they don’t have tenure. They have me to advocate for them. So that is what I’m here to do today.”
We’re sure glad she cleared that up because, for those of you keeping score, we now know that the administrators have Heinz advocating for them; and the teachers have their union, the Park Ridge Education Association (“PREA”), advocating for them. Those advocates have done quite well for their constituents, judging by the high-pay-without-performance they enjoy.
We taxpayers, however, are left with the likes of “Boss” Borrelli, vice-president Scott Zimmerman, Dathan Paterno, Vicki Lee, Bob Johnson, Tom Sotos and Mark Eggemann as our “advocates.”
With apologies to both President Obama and ISIS, these school board members are the real “junior varsity.”
The H-A reports that Heinz initially wanted a 1.9% pay boost for her administrators, plus something called a “market adjustment performance bonus.” That 1.9%, however, was just for optics – a wink-and-nod number contrived in one of those weekly closed-session meetings to give the Board some faux bragging rights about how tough it was in beating that 1.9% down to 1% that might fool the rubes.
The set-up for that Kabuki occurred back on August 8 when the “Boss” and Scotty Zimm first called for CPI-based raises – even though the national CPI had risen only 0.8% over last year and the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics pegged the Chicago area’s CPI as having actually fallen by 0.1% over the past 12 months.
If the “Boss” and Zimm were on the legit, that would have meant no CPI-based raises.
But of course they weren’t.
So when residents Steve Schildwachter and Mike Reardon challenged the Board on such raises without clearly documented performance justifications, the Board spent almost 15 minutes ripping them with a variety of self-serving, undocumented ipse dixit remarks about the Board’s and Administration’s many accomplishments – all of which you can watch on the meeting video, starting at the 1:57:00 mark and running through the 2:15:00 mark.
We might blow some holes in those Board remarks in a future post, but for now we’ll stop and shift our focus from the undercard to Monday night’s main event: “Boss” Borrelli’s announcement that there’s a new 4-year contract with the PREA.
Don’t expect to hear about its terms or actually read its text anytime soon, when it might actually matter – like before the Board approves it.
According to another August 23 H-A article (“’Tentative’ contract reached for District 64 teachers, board president says”) the “Boss” stated that the contract will not be released to the public (a/k/a, the taxpayers) until after it is approved by both the PREA and the School Board, which is expected to occur next month.
According to Borrelli, the reason for that isn’t any legal requirement but merely the District’s longstanding practice of not informing the taxpayers about teacher contracts before each such contract becomes a fait accompli.
The “Boss” thinks the taxpayers he claims to represent can’t fully appreciate the new contract, negotiated over a seven-month period in secretive closed sessions, without first having an understanding of “all the issues involved,” “the full background of it,” and “the full gist of it” – all the insights which he, his Board and the PREA prevented the taxpayers from acquiring by holding all those negotiations in closed session.
If pressed, Borrelli will insist that those closed sessions aren’t his fault, that the requirement was put into the last contract that he voted against.
But the way to tell whether Borrelli is full of Bolognese on this point – and trying to hide the new contract’s terms so that the taxpayers can’t see what a bad deal it is before it’s approved – is whether there’s a similar closed-session negotiation requirement in this new contract that will bind and gag the future board that negotiates the next contract in 2020.
By then, Borrelli will likely have left the Board and disclaimed any ownership of the high-priced mediocrity (relative to comparable districts, not to the state average and schools in Franklin Park, Calumet City or Effingham) that he and his clown-car passengers have foisted on the District’s taxpayers and students. And by then we expect Heinz to have leveraged her entry-level superintendent position here into a better gig elsewhere, presumably closer to her Vernon Hills home.
That’s why we’re willing to bet the “Boss” one crisp new $1 bill that this latest contract contains another cone-of-silence negotiations provision, along with the same old, same old automatic annual step and lane raises that reward teachers merely for continuing to show up and take some grad courses that may or may not have any measurable effect on their job performance.
Of course, that’s just speculation because the “Boss” and his Oui-Street Board don’t even try to conceal their contempt for the intelligence and public spiritedness of their constituents – especially the more than two-thirds of Park Ridge households who pay more than two-thirds of D-64s taxes but don’t even have a kid in D-64 schools – by doing something as simple and honest as publishing the new contract NOW.
Which is why they so brazenly give us a Rahm Emanuel salute:
Except with a full complement of middle-finger joints.
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