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Park Ridge’s Anthony Borrelli and school finance.

September 28, 2012

Park Ridge school board. Anthony Borrelli, upper left.

Some of my old colleagues in Park Ridge sent me a copy of The Park Ridge Patch.

Good. ‘Cause I don’t normally subscribe.

Yesterday The Patch ran a story on the school board vote to approve the collective bargaining agreement between the board and the Park Ridge Education Association.

As I reported earlier, the vote was 5 to 2. Park Ridge podiatrist Anthony Borrelli was one of the two no votes.

Board member Anthony Borrelli also voted no on the contract, citing rising taxes and declining income and net worth for taxpayers. He also said the district needs more money to put towards looming capital needs. A survey of the district’s buildings found $14 million in immediate needs.

“Funding for these necessary projects to provide a safe working and teaching environment, free of flooding, mold and providing temperature and humidity control, for our teachers and children is a difficult and serious concern,” Borrelli said in an email.

Borrelli would have approved a contract that kept teacher raises in line with the inflation rate, he said.

“It was my hope that a win – win situation would have been reached,” he said. “If a salary increase could have been kept within the anticipated CPI for the next several years, teachers would not have had an erosion of salary due to inflation and the cost to the District would have simply kept pace with inflation.

“This contract extends beyond the anticipated CPI for the coming several years.  For the above reasons, in fairness to the taxpayers of District 64, I have voted no to the contract.”

To Borrelli’s credit, it’s not like he kept these views entirely secret when he was running for school board. He ran on a platform calling for larger class sizes, no new hiring and no salary increase to staff.

Borrelli and his band of self-proclaimed anti-tax watchdogs will run Park Ridge schools into the ditch if their views win out.

If teacher salaries are tied only to the rate of inflation (and by the way, there is no single measure of that) then a teacher hired into the district at an entry-level salary would never see their salary increase in real dollars for the entire length of their teaching career. The average teacher in Park Ridge has taught for 13 years and has a Master’s Degree. Borelli would have the school district pay the average teacher the same in real dollars as a starting teacher and the same as a teacher with 35 years.

Who would take a job like that? What professional career is compensated like that?

What teacher would work in District 64 with a compensation plan like that?

Once you get past all the mumbo-jumbo about capital needs, Borrelli has been quite clear that he is against paying teachers fairly. He ran on a platform that tries to pit Park Ridge taxpayers against teachers.

If he was really concerned about Park Ridge taxpayers he would be in Springfield fighting to change the way we fund education in this state.

The point of all this is that elected school boards are good.

But then you have to pay attention to who gets elected.

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