To celebrate her 50th birthday in 1997 Hillary Clinton came home to Park Ridge where she went to school and was a Goldwater Girl.
Park Ridge, Illinois is where I taught for three decades and was the union president for one of those decades.
Our elected bargaining teams and I bargained many contracts. None of them were easy. One led to a strike in 2003.
Senator Andy Manar wants Illinois school funding formula changes that would move state dollars from wealthy districts to poor ones. Nobody has been able to tell me what Manar considers a wealthy district. Sixty percent of Illinois school districts are on the financial watch list.
Districts with low real estate values and those that depend on the existing low state funding level may not open in the fall if there is no budget resolution in Springfield.
Park Ridge is clearly one of the wealthy districts if you calculate it by how much money they have and how much they keep in the bank.
The district is running somewhere between a 30% and 40% budget surplus.
That means the Park Ridge board of education is not taking what it collects from property taxes and spending it in classrooms. They are keeping it in the bank.
Park Ridge District 64 is the 12th most profitable school district in Illinois as measured by budget surplus.
But they are not satisfied.
The contract between the Park Ridge Education Association and the Park Ridge school board expires July 1st. They have been bargaining since January.
Sources tell me that the main issue is the demand by the school board to rip up the salary schedule which compensates teachers for experience and professional training and degrees. Doing away with the salary schedule will drive down the cost of teachers.
As one board member told me many years ago, “You teachers are just another cost that needs to be contained.”
Doing away with salary schedules has been the main bargaining demand of school boards across Illinois, as if that demand has come from central command.
I’m not privy to negotiations. But I’m willing t0 bet teachers in Park Ridge are not going to accept this without a fight.