Teachers on strike last year in McHenry over the salary schedule. Photo: Fred Klonsky
Today’s Chicago Tribune just discovered that some Illinois school districts are offering veteran teachers post retirement bonuses, although they are not pensionable.
Meaning they have no impact on the cost to the pension systems.
The largest of these bonuses go to retiring administrators.
The reason these retirement bonuses, which often include the district paying some or part of the retiree health insurance until Medicare kicks in at 65, is that it saves the district an enormous amount of money by replacing higher paid veteran teachers with entry level employees.
But here is what the Trib isn’t telling anyone.
There has been a concerted and coordinated effort on the part of suburban Cook and downstate school districts to add steps to the existing contracts. Steps are the increases in compensation paid in exchange for years of experience.
An employee in the private sector with comparable degrees, training and experience may move up the professional track through promotions, new titles and increases in compensation. Not so with teachers. The only way to move up would be to leave the classroom for an administrative position.
Most of us went into teaching to have a career as educators working with students, not to be administrators.
According to those who follow and track teacher contracts across the state, boards and their lawyers are demanding that steps be added to the bottom of the schedule, thus creating a two-tier salary schedule. Newly hired teachers will have to work more years to reach their maximum salary, if they ever last that long.
This is trickin’ the salary schedule since it is natural for current teachers not to evaluate a contract based on how it impacts teachers not yet hired.
It will have a huge impact on the profession.
Along with the two-tier TRS pension system where teachers must work until they are 67 to collect their earned pension, board strategy seems aimed at ending the notion of teaching as a life-long career.
Students will suffer the consequences.
The Trib will be relieved to know it will solve the concern over post retirement bonuses. Few teachers will work at teaching that long.