It’s two weeks before the start of school in Evanston and District 65 teachers have no new contract — so they will be out picketing before tonight’s school board meeting.

Organizers of the protest are inviting community residents to join the teacher union members on the picket line. Protest organizer Saul Lieberman says the group will gather at 5:30 p.m. outside the school administration building at 1500 McDaniel Ave. and then wave their signs along nearby streets until the meeting begins at 7 p.m.

The board tonight is scheduled to give preliminary approval to its budget for the new school year, with final adoption planned to follow a public hearing next month.

The budget calls for total spending across all funds of $125 million and is balanced by drawing down fund reserves by nearly $18 million.

The budget anticipates that salary and benefit costs will total $87 million, a decline of 1 percent from last year.

Those reductions are accomplished by eliminating about 36 jobs and replacing 51 retiring employees with less-experienced new workers who will earn less.

The budget anticipates that a setlement with the teacher’s union — when it’s finally reached — will result in a 3.8 percent increase in the cost of employing the average teacher. That includes base salary and step pay increases as well as pay hikes based on completing additional continuing education.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. What? A 4 percent raise is not good enough?

    Let me get this straight.

    The Board is expected to approve a 3.8 percent average teacher pay raise yet the Teacher's Union will still march in protest?

    Teacher's Unions and other government unions have fared better than the those in the private sector since the Great Recession began.  A good chunk of the Democrats' federal stimulus bill went to keep government employees working. Illinois Democrats borrowed billions to pay down the union pensions and keep government unions working.

    Illinois Democrats in 2010 raised income taxes 67 percent to keep the government union money train rolling. The Evanston City Council has raised taxes double digits in the past two years.

    And now it's Democrats including Daniel Biss who want to kick the pension mess down to local school districts. If that happens, D65 and D202 will be in for a real good financial mess and hard hit taxpayers will be asked to fork over more money.

    Say, don't forget to pay your property tax bill this month!!!!

    Not many people in the private sector are getting 4 percent pay raises these days. Our local, county, state and federal government (most of whom are Democrats) seem to have no problem borrowing trillions and spending billions on pet projects such as Solyndra – owned by a top Obama campaign bundler.

    It's easy to spend other people's money.

    It's going to be real easy to vote out these spendthrift clowns this Nov. 6. For the first time ever, I will vote straight Republican up and down the ballot.


    1. The teachers have yet to talk about money

      The teachers have yet to talk money. They are trying to protect the arts, planning time, work load, and promote a fair evaluation system. 

      1. Time or money?

        Perhaps those fine arts teachers unwilling to pick up the additional contact time (currently they spend 20 hours a week with students) to ensure our kids get the same amount of instructional time would be willing to forgo the  raises?

        1. Try it

          I think the D65 administration should call DEC's bluff. Offer to restore the scheduling changes so there is still the prior year's workload of teaching vs. prep time, and teachers not splitting their time between school buildings. Restore positions in art, music, and gym.

          Then freeze wages for a year, shift some benefit costs onto teachers, and model future raises similar to D202 where the new contract provides for salaries to increase at a fraction of inflation. The private sector is enjoying similar wage stagnation. If DEC accepts this proposal, their claims of being concerned about work rules and instructional delivery will prove true.

          If they are offered their requested rule changes and an adverse wage package and reject it, it will turn out that they were just as concerned about the economics. D65 should call their bluff. Under the first scenario, if they agree, ink the deal and be done, but if the second plays out, it will change the discussion.

          If D65,doesn't call DEC's bluff, please explain why and what it hopes to gain by sticking with schedule changes opposed by teachers and parents alike.

  2. No it’s not good enough

    My son's teacher works a second job in the summer and waits tables on weekends year round. Three jobs to pay down staggering student loans. She could do something else with her life but teaching is her passion and she deserves to do it in the best possible conditions.

    Evanston has always had good schools but Murphy wants to take them in the wrong direction–cutting arts and physical education, pushing even MORE standardized testing, the whole school "reform" agenda that has been a disaster everywhere else around the country.

    All the billionaire school reformers– from Rahm's people to the Pritzkers–advocate this agenda of budget slashing, testing- crazed, teacher-scapegoating insanity. But look at the schools they send their own kids to–Lab school, Roycemore, etc, and you will see the exact opposite prescription–for their own kids, there are no standardized tests, plenty of art and creativity in the curriculum, small class sizes, plenty of resources.

    What's good enough for their kids is good enough for ours. And that means treating teachers well and giving them all the financial support and resources to do their job well.

    1. A bit of irony

      Yes and the irony here is…..

      A.) Private school teachers make less money.

      B.) Private school teachers are not entitled to a pension.



      1. More irony


        more irony

        C.)  Private school teachers do NOT need to have to have a degree in Education to teach children.

        1. Since when

          You will not find a private school teacher who has been hired in the last 20 years who does not have an education degree. This is the same as the public school teachers. There are both public and private school teachers working the system who do not have education degrees but they are the older teachers.

          There are many public school teachers who do not qualify under the minimum requirements that have been passed in the last 5 years but the state has not started enforcement, This is mainly due to union pressure.


    2. I agree–support the teachers

      I agree that teachers deserve the raise and our children deserve to have the same classroom experience as other children on the North Shore.  My son is in second grade.  He was lucky enough to have an experienced teacher with a degree from Northwestern.  While it is easy to treat teachers as scapegoats in this bad economy, claiming that those in the "private sector" earn less and have fewer perks, this simply isn't the case.  Both my husband and I also graduated from NU and believe me, our son's teacher, though similarly educated, is earning nowhere near many of her fellow alums from NU who chose to pursue careers in the private sector.  That public vs. private sector argument might work for those who choose Fox as their news source, but those of us who live in this community and send our kids to the Evanston public schools aren't duped by ridiculous, right-wing propaganda.  I have a sign on my lawn supporting not just the measly four percent raise that these educators are fairly negotiating for, but a sign on my lawn that demands the excellent education that these teachers are fighting to give my son next year.  

      1. Silly

        It's silly to think that those who disagree with the teacher's union stance on current negociations are right-wing Fox watching Republicans.  There are actually teachers here in d 65 who disagree with you.  I think you should do a little research and see exactly what the union is fighting and perhaps you will quietly remove your sign as many people have started to do. 

        1. Not removing yard sign

          It is not silly to assume that those who oppose raises and fair working conditions are "right wing.". I responded to a comment that was indeed conservative and called it so.

          I have read every article published about the teachers' negotiations and I agree with them and will not "quietly remove" my yard sign.

          Why would I cease to support these teachers when they ask for things that they clearly deserve? Why would I remove a yard sign that clearly supports the education that my child deserves? And in response to the commentator that implied that teachers' summers off are somehow equitable to NU attorneys ' horrendous work hours and wages — wake up!

          Attorneys I know who graduated from NU worked very hard for the first five years and are now earning $600/ hour for work that they do, and additional money for work that associates do in their firms.

          Again, let's stop the propoganda that bashes teachers and unions and support professionals that work in our community with our children. There is absolutely NO evidence out there that a district 65 teacher with a degree from NU's SESP earns as much as a corporate attorney with a degree from NU' s law school, regardless of summers "off'" when most teachers work second jobs over the summer.

          Please– someone tell me in what district a public school teacher earns $600 an hour? Give me a break– again, those of us who live in this district and are sending our children to public school are not "silly" and we understand exactly what the teachers are asking for.

          I will not remove the sign from my lawn — I am an educated member of this community who will not suffer the ignorance of those who oppose these hard-working teachers and children who deserve an excellent education.

          1. Fair working conditions?

            We're not talking about sweat shops and coal mines. These are professionals who are being asked to pick up 20 additional teaching minutes a day in exchange for a pay raise during a recession. And you may want to ask one of your lawyer friends to explain the difference between their billing rate and what they actually earn.

          2. Misinformed

            It's not about that at all. The extra workload is not  just 20 kids. We have teachers who see over 300 students once a week in up to three schools traveling to schools that have no parking and who have to eat lunch in their car if they are lucky and lug around thir things like gypsies.

            When is enough just enough? And did you ever think about all of the extra things they already do for our kids, like the assemblies and YEA festival?

            I don't see the administrators day getting longer! Let's respect the profession and listen to the real issues.

            Money has yet to be discussed yet it appears that Dr Murphy is ready to show how much he can give.  This whole thing is simply disgusting. If I could afford to move I would in an instant.   The school board needs to go to schools and stay in one for three to five days and see what actually goes on.

            And the admins need to do the same. Shame on them all. 


          3. In response to NU law school salaries vs. NU SESP salaries

            I did contact my three friends who graduated from NU's law school and asked how much they actually earn per year.  Out of the three, the one attorney who earns the least earns over $750,000 per year. So– regardless of your "summer off" theory, my child's  second grade teacher's NU education has resulted in a salary far below her contemporaries' salaries. Again, I would like my child's interaction with his teachers to be as valuable for him as his interaction with similar professionals.  I am willing to pay for quality teachers and I will gladly put my money where my mouth is.  

          4. Who will pay—man behind the tree ?

            You said:

            "I will gladly put my money where my mouth is."


            You are certainly free to make a large donation to the schools or teachers fund.   The schools have not proved themself to at least those people without children and apparently from test scores and other proofs, a lot of parents with children.  When they work 80 hour weeks 52 weeks a year like many lawyers, accountants, doctors, investment analysts, etc. do, then higher salaries may be an issue.

            This is a like those who complain about Romney's tax rate * but ignoring Buffet complains about his low tax rate and that the rich don't pay a higher rate.  He is certainly free to write a large check to the IRS but has not. Note when he finally decided to 'do good' with his money [he had avoided charity for most of his life] he gave it to the Gates Foundation, not IRS.

            People want other people to pay for their pet causes.


            * Note Swiss bank accounts pay little if any interest and now are charging you to for your funds—negative interest.

          5. NU law salary irrelevant

            Who cares whether the teacher salary is below that of an NU law school graduate? How is that relevant to anything whatsoever.?

            People go into NU law school knowing full well what their salary potential is; people go into teaching also knowing full well what their salary expectations will be.  The teacher made a choice of their own free will and the salary of anything else in the world is irrelevant.

            Illinois teachers already have something like the third highest average teacher salary in the nation and the fourth highest average starting salary in the nation.  When you take that average salary for nine months of work, prorate that out to compare to everybody else's 12-month work schedule, it's as if they were averaging roughly 80K a year with a retirement benefit package that far and away outstrips the average citizen's. 

            The average salary in the US is in the 40K range,  80K a year is in the top 25%  The idea that teachers are underpaid isn't valid.  Not detracting from teachers, but they choose their profession and are paid not only well, but better than the average.  


      2. Teachers need to put more skin in the game

        There are many quality D65 and D202 teachers and there are some not so good but union contracts make it hard to fire them.

        Regardless, property, sales, income, city and county taxes keep going up each year. The unsustainable government union pensions is a train wreck coming our way. Democrat legislators like Biss want to shove the pension mess down to local school districts. 

        It's time teacher's put some skin in the game- either take a pay cut, pay freeze or pay more into their cushy pensions and healthcare.

        If they don't like it they can try another school district or maybe private schools.

      3. Tradeoffs

        While the NU educated teacher may not make as high a salary as his/her peer, the teacher enjoys a family friendly schedule and limited work schedule.  We all know the executive, attorney, etc who spends 12 hours a day away from home and even more when they are traveling.  If you break it out by the hour, I'm guessing the pay rates are pretty close.

    3. Most people have to work extra

      Supporting D65 teachers doesn't mean blindly supporting them.  What is going on now is that DEC has done a great job of getting parents and community members on board without clearly explaining the issues. 

      The main issue is that fine arts and PE teachers are being asked to work a little extra (the same hours as current classroom teachers are working) so that the kids can have the same amount of art and PE class time but the district can save $ (by reducing staff) in order to pay for raises for existing teachers.  Sounds fair to me – and plenty of teachers I've spoken to agree.

      Most people I know have been required to work additional hours the past few years – if they are lucky enough to have kept their jobs.  And in many cases, without raises.  When DEC says that the administration's proposal will negatively affect the children's education (and eliminate after school programs), what I hear is that SOME teachers are unwilling to put in a handful of extra hours a week to ensure that it doesn't.  

      I am a huge supporter of teachers and always have been.  The way the current contract negociations have been handled by DEC, however, is misleading and unfair. 

      1. Working extra not the issue

        Working extra is not the issue. You try teaching 150+ kids a day, attend meetings before and after school and keep up with everything that is expected of you. The board and it's top administrators have not stepped into a classroom to fully understand the negative impact their proposal will bring. In fact, some admins have never taught, never step foot in schools, yet they are asked what they think? Simply disturbing that these high paid officials don't have a clue about what teachers do on a daily basis. What if we took their one hour + lunches away? How would they feel? Or how about we have them share offices and travel? They are clueless yet we as residents listen to their proposals? Enough is enough. Time for a big change across the board. 

  3. Unfortunate that board pushed for Ward 5 school

    If the school board had pushed for an operating budget referendum in the spring instead of a 5th Ward school, D65 would not be in this predicament.

    There is no money to give these teachers what they rightfully are demanding, unless the school district dips into other funds (i.e. maintance/building) and prays that an operating budget can pass in November.

    Poor leadership all around.  Children will suffer as fine art, PE, and special education staff are cut.


  4. Why get rid of the new teachers?

    I know first-hand that in my kid's school they let go most of the new and young teachers, because of budget cuts, but they are keeping these dinosaurs money vultures around that are only still doing their jobs because of the union protection.

    Get rid of the high paying, old teachers, that have been crying wolf and getting raises  every time they threaten to strike, force them into early retirement, and bring back those new, energetic, and enthusiastic teachers that they let go over the last couple of years!

    The schools are old, most teachers even older, and our kids are not the priority here…

    1. You can hire the ‘old’ as teachers—maybe for free

      You would probably find a number of PhDs in the field who are retired or who work for companies that give employees time off for things like teaching or at least working with classes, who would be happy to teach, provide afterhour [if not during the day] or tutor but can't—the unions, teacher exams, state/union testing and boards approval.

      The unions will never let this happen—the union and the politicans they scare to death, protects themselves.  The kids are incidental to the argument.  If parents want more, they have to pay expensive tutors which the unions know most can't afford—thus they protect themselves again.

      The good teachers are put in a spot.  They may not be able to make up for prior bad teachers and thus are made to look bad themselves when scores are recorded.  You have to start at the bottom and get rid of the bad teachers so the kids can learn from day one and not be shown to be behind in 9-12.


      1. Pedagogical knowledge

        You assume that knowing something yourself means that you are able to teach it well to others.

        This is a special challenge when the "others" are 30+ years younger than you are.  And you have to remember what it was like to be exposed to an idea for the first time.

    2. Insulting “old” teachers is unacceptable

      The post about getting rid of old teachers, and the inflammatory, insulting adjectives used to describe them is insulting,juvenile, and just plain mean.  I sincerely hope that you do not use this type of language or make these types of cruel generalizations in front of your children.   And if so, I hope that they have teachers along the way that teach them to be kind and fair.  Please, let us exercise some civility.   There are teachers (both old and young) who live in our neighborhoods, attend our places of worship, host play dates for our children and otherwise participate in our community beyond the work environment.  These teacher-bashing posts are demoralizing for us all.  As a life-long Evanstonian, I am ashamed of so many of the comments that have appeared.  It is one thing to comment on the specific financial points in these negotiations, but when these posts become personal and sink to the level of disparaging senior teachers (most of whom are older women), one has to question the writer her or himself.  Again, let us exercise the civility that hopefully our parents, mentors and, yes, teachers taught us when we were children.  

  5. Rising Income disparity

    Compensating teachers fairly and respecting all teachers is critically important. People need to have an objective conversation about total compensation – this has not occurred. For example, there is a study just released today by Sentier Research which analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data. The reported U.S. government data shows that from December 2007 until June 2012 that real median household income declined 7.2% from $54,916 to $50,964 (NY Times story).

    This is painful. Yet in the midst of this income decline, the average household is feeling the pressure from rising sales taxes, fees and other income producing ideas from local, state & federal governments.

    But during this 4 1/2 year period while the average U.S. household has been getting squeezed, new public employee contracts continue to get negotiated and settled with 2-4% stated salary increases, but with grade increases, step levels etc, the average effective salary is increasing at a 5+% annual rate.

    In addition, to salary increases benefiting the public sector, the public is becoming increasingly aware of the guaranteed defined benefit pensions and their cost. At the same time private sector employees have seen their defined benefit pension plans eliminated and have witnessed their 401K plans getting decimated.

    So if there is some angst being expressed about compensation, it's helpful to put things in perspective.

    I highly value the outstanding work done in the classroom by many of our teachers and thank those that go above and beyond the call of duty. Teaching is a noble profession which changes children's lives.

    Thank you!

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