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U-46 Board given annual salary, benefits report

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 was presented with an annual salary and benefits report for district teachers and administrators at its meeting on Monday, Aug. 6.
  The total salaries and benefits presented equated to $216.3 million which does not include all employees as $367.4 million was budgeted in Fiscal Year 2018. There are 888 employees in the district receiving six-figures between base salaries, benefits and retirement according to the data.
  U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said that state law, under Public Act 097-0256, “requires school districts to report to (Illinois State Board of Education)… on or before October 1st of each year the base salary and benefits of all administrators and teachers employed by the district and to present to the board at a school board meeting.”
  No action from the board is needed according to Sanders.
  Sanders also responded to a request made before the meeting by board member Jeanette Ward who asked for the raw data in a spreadsheet rather than the PDF file that was presented.
  “This is not data that we maintain in a spreadsheet in U-46,” Sanders said. “All this information is loaded from our HR and fiscal officers into the state’s employment information system, and they spit the report back to us in a PDF format.”
  Ward replied: “Well, does the state have it in a spreadsheet and then convert it to a PDF? It just looks like it came from a spreadsheet. It looks like the state had a spreadsheet and converted it to a PDF.”
  Sanders said that “they probably do, but when you asked today we did not have a copy of that today. We would have to FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) that from the state.”
  Board member Sue Kerr asked if the data included additional funds such as coaching stipends to which Melanie Meidel, assistant superintendent of human resources, said: “No, they just request the base and it also doesn’t include every employee. It’s a certain category.”
  Meidel said it only includes certified administrators, not classified administrators, as well as classroom teachers. She said staff such as social workers or guidance councilors are not included.
  Board member Phil Costello suggested in a recent blog post that while the district is providing the bare minimum required under state law, the public deserves greater transparency on how their tax dollars are spent with regards to salaries and benefits.
  Costello wrote: “Personnel expenses represent $367M (70 [percent]) of our $518M budget. The $7.9M budget increase from fiscal 2017 and the forecasted 2.4 [percent] annual increases over the next three years in personnel expenses have not registered a single comment from the Board or public. On our website, we only disclose the prior year’s teacher and administrator personnel expenses to meet public statutory mandates, however, the total is only 57 [percent] of the budget. There is no explanation of the nature of the exclusions or scope of what comprises the balance of $156M gap for public scrutiny.”
  The board was also presented with, at the meeting, a quarterly financial report for secondary schools for the fourth quarter. Dale Burnidge, director of financial operations, said the quarter ran from April 1 through June 30 and it totaled $3.5 million, a $768,117 decrease from the previous quarter which he said is “pretty typical for the fourth quarter of the year.”
  “The balances have decreased for most of the schools and that’s mainly due to the schools remitting instructional material fees, athletic participation fees and parking permit fees collected at the schools back to the district,” Burnidge said.
  The report includes the fund balances of various clubs at secondary schools and Ward asked: “If a club existed but now they have a zero balance, will they not appear in this report? I noticed there’s one line item for donations that’s zero.”
  Burnidge said: “If there was no activity, I don’t think it would be in here.”
  Ward further asked if a club exists but has no fund balance that club would not be in the report and Burnidge said that was correct.






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