Are LFHS teachers greedy or do they just have a tin ear?
August 15, 2012
I read with interest the article by Lake Forest Patch editor, Steve Sadin, “LFHS Teachers’ Pay Rival Neighbors”, on Monday, August 15.
Will Lake Forest teachers really follow through with their declared impasse, daring to strike as early as Sept. 10 if a favorable agreement can’t be reached with the District 115 Board of Education? Don’t they realize how good they have it as teachers at Lake Forest High School?
Are citizens of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff being conditioned to believe that Lake Forest High School teachers are poor indigent, downtrodden, living in old leaky tents teachers and staff, with no money, hitching rides to and from the schools, wearing rags from the garbage cans, nary a crumb to eat, not paid even minimum wage they say, besieged by nasty rich lakeside citizens who will not pay them a decent wage?
Far from it! As pointed out by Steve Sadin in this morning’s PATCH article, the most recent data issued by the Illinois State Board of Education website (ISBE) indicates that Lake Forest High School teachers are already the highest paid on the North Shore, edging out Deerfield and Highland Park High Schools by $421 a year. The average annual teacher salary at LFHS is $106,457. Educators at Deerfield and Highland Park High Schools earn an average of $106.036 per year. New Trier Township High Schools comes in at $103,670; Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South High Schools at $100,401; and Stevenson High School at $97,531.
An impasse has been reached because District 115 Board wisely refused to meet the demands of a proposal presented by the Lake Forest Education Association on July 19, which calls for a three-year contract with an average annual increase in compensation (salary and benefits) of 6.7 percent. The board offered a compensation package of 3.6 percent, which is very generous particularly given the not-so-stellar economy. And it was not unreasonable of the board to further request that teachers pay some of their family health care premiums.
Whatever happened to what now seems like an old fashioned idea for those choosing the teaching profession: That teaching is a noble profession; that salaries would never be on the same par as those earned in business; but that the desire to impart knowledge to those who will become future leaders and responsible citizens was most important.
At LFHF it seems that teachers have voted to convey the idea that money gained through the threat of a strike is more important than staying on the job and doing what they were hired to do.
In a published LF Patch article on Friday, August 11, “LFHS Teachers Declare Impasse, Strike Possible,” Richard Moore, Lake Forest Education Association teachers’ union President, had this to say: “I’m teacher. I just want to teach. I left the business world because I want to help raise the next generation.”
Moore also insisted that the contract must be “fair and equitable.”
Perhaps Richard Moore should have stayed in the business world? He did make a respectable base salary of $105.344 during the 2011-2012 school year. This doesn’t include all the other perks Richard might have received, including healthcare, which his base salary does not reflect.
Not bad considering all the days off throughout the school year, including winter and spring breaks, a Christmas break, and at least eight weeks of vacation time during the summer! Such time off is not available in the business world!
For many local residents teacher salaries have gotten to be over generous at LFHS, with pensions now reaching the level of what teachers earn in their final year of teaching within ten years after they retire..
Competition now seems to rule in salary negotiations. Just as schools compete with one another to have winning sports teams, schools are now competing to offer the highest salaries through teacher union negotiations. Teacher unions will strongly suggest that teachers will go elsewhere if their pay is not equal or better than those offered in a neighboring school district.
It is not that I don’t value teachers and all that they do, but as public employees paid for by taxpayers, LFHS teachers must surely realize that it is unreasonable to be demanding higher salaries and benefits than some of the taxpayers who are supporting the high price tag associated with operating LFHS through the payment of their already considerable property taxes.
When is enough, enough for Lake Forest and Lake Bluff taxpayers?
It will ultimately be up to the District #115 Board to decide what is fair and equitable. So far board members have been looking out for taxpayers. May they have the fortitude to continue to do so, which will call for continued support, input and encouragement from concerned residents.