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D203 dismisses nearly 300 employees

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During its Monday meeting, District 203's board approved the dismissal of 218 education support personnel and 77 certified staff, 62 of whom are classroom teachers.

Each year, by March 15, school districts must notify all employees whose contracts will not be renewed for the coming school year. This year, "because of enrollment declines and economic concerns," that list is longer than it has been in the past, said Superintendent Alan Leis.

Districts do this every year with certain employees and many of them are hired back, but Leis said he doesn't think many of the dismissed teachers will be hired back unless something happens demographically.

What are your thoughts on these cuts?

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These poor D203 teachers will now get unemployment, COBRA benefits and a Garden Plot.

Mr. Higgins,

Not sure what you want. Are the numbers I used wrong? If you want to supply 1997, 1998, and 1999 please do. I'd be happy to repost the table. I already graphed 1998 and 1999 in the original plot above, but put them at 101% instead of 100%. Regardless of what that data is, the graph has a very striking appearance.

I do not think you can deny that the plot from 2000 to 2008 is concerning.



Maybe compare standardized minimum competency test scores (ISAT) with some pseudo-inate test such as CoGATs. I really think to compare, we need some non-educational baseline data. Not sure what it is. Apparently people pay money to have their children learn how to take these tests. Yuck!

I would suggest maybe looking at ISAT scores over time for each student, but...The new principal at ?North said he liked D203 because it was a consolidated district and he knew that the same skills were being taught in all of the feeder schools, unlike in Hinsdale. This makes comparison to other districts difficult.

Do we know the ISAT/PSAE scores of new students to D203 versus ones who have been here. Again, the problem will be participant selection bias. Maybe only parents who earn enough money and move here because the "schools are great" bring their kids. Maybe kids who move within one year perform 10% lower than their personal baseline. I don't know.


e^(i^pi) wrote:

We have kids who can lap up knowledge, and when it is presented before a test, they will do well. In no way, shape, or form, does a good ISAT performance mean D203 is educating our children well. It means the ISAT topics are covered and the children understand them. This is a subtle, but real, difference in thinking between you, Mr. Higgins, and those of us who care that our children actually learn to their abilities.

I agree that scores on standardized tests are an imperfect way to measure student achievement and/or school performance, but I'm curious as to what metric you would propose to use.




your chart from above starting in the year 2000:

Year| D203 % of state PPS | STATE Education Inflation (%)| US
2000 | 93.5 | 6.94 | 3.38
2001 | 95.6 | 4.72 | 2.83
2002 | 96.0 | 5.92 | 1.59
2003 | 97.0 | 3.22 | 2.27
2004 | 99.6 | 3.68 | 2.68
2005 | 101.7 | 3.58 | 3.39
2006 | 103.3 | 3.56 | 3.24
2007 | 104.1 | 4.28 | 2.85
2008 | 103.2 | 4.42 | 3.85

May I gently suggest you consider adding the previous three years and re-calibrate your argument?

Thom Higgins

Can anyone validate the rumor that NapervilleTaxpayer.org just sent out a questionnaire to the candidates for the School Board?

Hey, all:

Note that the Herald describes D203 costs as "....a very reasonable cost-per-pupil spending."

NOT the "best in the world, none better, the second coming, 203 in the highest", or any of the other superlatives we have heard on these blogs from Tom Higns!

Now that we have him in writing referring to D203 as having "reasonable spending per student", perhaps we can have a real debate on the REAL effectiveness on D203 versus it's own past performance!

Anyone who thinks SC has been "excellent" on the Board needs to realign their parameters of "excellent".

ALL credit for the site fund goes to the poor schmuck Taxpayers who got taken to the cleaners by an unethical Board/admin that inappropriately implemented the 2002 referendum. At the forum, Romberg & Crotty took credit for NOT taking the fifth year ---- WHAT HYPOCRITES!
ALL of that credit goes to the Taxpayers' Ticket for mercilessly antagonizing the Board to do so.

Anyone who thinks otherwise is a "P.U.R.E." proponent of revisionist history!

Well, there you are! The DH is now THE arbiter of all that is good in Naperville!

Quick point: her comments on being PERSONALLY responsible for saving the taxpayer's $18-$26 million was pure, unadulterated bullcrap.

Question for Thomas Higgins

Who are the other three candidates endorsed by the Herald?

Mr. Higgins,

Several points:

1) Could you not read my graph to see that I included 1998 and 1999 at 101%? I'd be happy to lower those points for you if you wish. Sorry there was no RED DOT on the graph for you.

2) Please explain how SC saved taxpayers money. Did she unilaterally institute the site and facilities fund? I have been on many a board. I can never recall anyone taking credit for an idea which was then implemented as being a personal achievement. That doesn't fly real well. Maybe "At my suggestion..." or "In the committee I was heading..." Perhaps I misunderstand what she can and cannot do. How did she save the taxpayers money? Did she put some over collection of taxes into a better bucket? Did she vote on the union contract just before the last school board election? These issues aside, she was really the worst of the candidates at the forum Monday. (Maybe MS was worse than her, since he complained of having to follow her.)

3) Are you surprised the Daily Herald quoted itself? I mean, this is the source of your RED DOT god, right?

4) Watch the wording, Daily Herald. Student achievement and student test scores are different things.

5) Here is something of interest from the ISAT from of one my children. The two tables are from the same test. These were 2 short answer problems.

Problem 1


meaning in the district 85% of the kids got 2, 10% got a 1 and 5% got a 0. The second column is state percentages.

Problem 2


Holy cow! The district did worse, much worse, compared to the state. Do we all of a sudden have dumb kids? No, what we have is a topic which was not covered in some of the schools by the time the ISAT occurred.

The curriculum is mostly aligned with the tests. We can see what happens when the timing is off. We have kids who can lap up knowledge, and when it is presented before a test, they will do well. In no way, shape, or form, does a good ISAT performance mean D203 is educating our children well. It means the ISAT topics are covered and the children understand them. This is a subtle, but real, difference in thinking between you, Mr. Higgins, and those of us who care that our children actually learn to their abilities.

6) I'll admit it. I moved to Naperville "for the schools." To me that meant my kids being surrounded by other children who were ready to learn, who cared to learn, and whose parents card deeply about education. The rest would take care of itself. Unfortunately, since I moved here, the table I wrote above happened. I also came to find the schools do not push the children very hard. I'd love to have more and varied programs. But those programs cannot be instituted when the primary budget number, teacher payroll, goes up faster than revenues increase. Plain and simple.

7) To whom are you trying to sell D203? Really? We are already here. (note to napervilletaxpayer.org "Here" not "hear") Maybe you need continued reassurance that you will not have wasted all those years cheer leading, when more rational folks, like Mrs. Rudolph, finally saw the light.



Well, the Daily Herald just endorsed her. Their quote regarding her:

It's hard to argue the bottom line in District 203 - it produces some of the suburbs' best student achievement with a very reasonable cost-per-pupil spending. Crotty recognizes this in citing academic excellence balanced with fiscal responsibility as her top priorities.

Have to say I agree with the Herald about the districts reasonable spending per pupil. I also think she has been excellent on the board, and does get to take credit for institution of the site and facilities fund.

Thom Higgins

SC was truly awful. I I I I I. Maybe the board DOES only need one voting member.

Mr. Higgins please post the raw salary data. I'm guessing I have the capability to interpret it. Please do not post a watered down version.

Mr. Denys: who??@napervilletaxpayer.org

Side comment: that website needs some editing. It also needs to grab the middle more, not just preach to the right.


Tom, it is pretty tough to defend or endorse Susan Crotty, the current Board member.

Her performances at the debates were terrible! I had her last in both cases.

I was actually offended by the way she took personal credit for everything! Is she aware there were other Board members there at each vote? I never heard so many "I" statements in a single sentence before.

Also, many of her answers to questions took the stance that the status quo is fine. This is certainly a bad belief for an alleged leader of our community.

All in all, she is off of my list.

Thom: The mere fact that SD 203 will be in deficit spending about two years sooner than anticipated is all the proof I need Thom that 203 and 204 for that matter are not in the least bit interested in living within budgets. This regardless of your fancy numbers comparing us to other districts. When the going gets rough, they will be in our pockets again. I'm sure 204 will be looking for money in 2010 and I suspect 203 will have a referendum on the ballot in 2010 too. When they make deep cuts into non-cirriculum expenses just as many of us have had to do with our own household finances, I will agree there is improvement. And I would like to see more vacant parking spaces at the admin. building while we are on the subject of waste. Gee, if teaching concerns for the enviornment is part of the cirriculum, why does every single person at the admin. bldg. have to drive their own car? How does everyone fit in there? Will we need to expand the admin. bldg. again in a couple of years and pave over more land for their parking lot? Nice to see at least the school district is profitable and growing. Until then, you and proponets of spending and spending and spending on goverment education should understand that there are growing numbers of us who are going to put the brakes on this. Until now, we have had little hope of succeeding but because of a deteriorating economy, market dynamics will make it easier for us.
What will be interesting is not the upcomming election. What will be interesting is the financial squeeze that the district is going to feel in the next couple of years and how we as taxpayers are going to respond.

Taxpayers Ticket,

Fortunately the citizens of Naperville feel otherwise or they would not have approved the facilities referendum. Her point is that she was the board member that asked for a site and facilities fund be created requiring the district to put excess funds in there dedicated to facilities. Absent that they could have been used for any purpose. Because the District is using that cash to pay for some of the renovations, they save the interest costs, hence her legitimate savings claim.

Also interest rates have not skyrocket and are currently below what the district projected last year.


Here are the three prior years to your data 100% 100% 98.2% when I have time I’ll get the other relevant numbers.
If you are looking for a complete salary schedule from me or Dan you are going to be displeased.

BTW, for the record, I will not communicate by e-mail with anonymous persons. You want to give me your real name then fine, I’d be glad to talk to you.

Thom Higgins


Why not send an e-mail to napervilletaxpayer.org so we have your contact info. We welcome more hands on deck.


X are years 1998-2008.

Mr. Higgins, please explain what about this graph is of interest.

Is it that the starting and ending points are about the same level -- YOUR claim

Or is it that there was a decrease in 2000 which then started ramping up very quickly? My concern.

104 -------------------------------------X------
103 -----------------------------------X------X
102 --------------------------------X----------
101 -X--X--------------------------------------
100 --------------------------X---------------
099 -------------------------------------------
098 --------------------------------------------
097 ----------------------X---------------------
096 ------------X---X-------------------------
095 -----------------------------------------
094 --------X---------------------------------
093 --------------------------------------------

Data from a prior post elsewhere:

Year| D203 % of state PPS | STATE Education Inflation (%)| US
2000 | 93.5 | 6.94 | 3.38
2001 | 95.6 | 4.72 | 2.83
2002 | 96.0 | 5.92 | 1.59
2003 | 97.0 | 3.22 | 2.27
2004 | 99.6 | 3.68 | 2.68
2005 | 101.7 | 3.58 | 3.39
2006 | 103.3 | 3.56 | 3.24
2007 | 104.1 | 4.28 | 2.85
2008 | 103.2 | 4.42 | 3.85

D203 % of state OEPP = D203 OEPP/ State OEPP

So the district went from 93.5% of state OEPP to 103% of state OEPP. In that time, you can see that the state educational inflation rate was MUCH higher than US inflation and D203 even managed to outpace that. Awesome!

What about this do you still not understand? Why do you insist in comparing the endpoints. There is some reason for the dip and subsequent rise. Looking only at the endpoints is foolish to say the least.

Payroll data please or do we need to file a FOI request with Mr. Zager. Are you withholding the data for some reason before the elections? You have my email. Let's see it.


Susan Crotty votes to steal $100 million plus (per the Naperville Sun) and she tells us she is using that money to save us $18 million.

I hope she is not doing the investments in her family.

She did not stop there. She said she saved the District $1.8 million on interest costs. Read the report from Ehlers, the savings was because the District only borrowed $10 million.


And the District has not sold the rest of the bonds and interest rates have skyrocketed. Does Crotty want to take credit for that as well?

More classic, Steve Deutsch is running on the platform of the taxpayer ticket and yet he does not want their endorsement. Same for Lynn Hodak. Classic.

"Measured on a December to December - or calendar year - basis, the consumer price index only grew 0.1% in 2008, according to Labor Department figures, the smallest gain in over 50 years and well below the 4.1% gain in 2007. But when the annual average of the CPI for all of 2008 is compared to the average for 2007, the increase was much higher, 3.8%. That was actually up from 2007’s rate. . . ."

I imagine the wide fluctuations in the price of oil had a lot to do with this. It certainly didn't seem like inflation was all but dormant last summer.

Where is Higgins and Denys joint statement on the salary increases in District 203? These numbers must show that the teachers are way underpaid. The increases must have been less than even what Higgins has been touting. As usual, the Taxpayers Ticket is lying to the community.

We need to increase the property taxes so we can increase the low salaries to teachers.

Higgins is right again, teachers make less than 2% increases.

Admit it, all of you guys.

Glad to see my ears were not failing me last night.

Yes, an incumbent (sc) did say "I'm responsible for saving district taxpayers $18 million." okay.

bye bye sc. Please. no votes for sc.

MS had no clue that many of the staffing "cuts" were part of an annual rite.

more later.



I understand your comment,based on your own standards, that you think we pay too much for schools. Fine. But I will continue to respond as I do to let people understand the reality of how much less D203 spends than it's peers, and that the school board and administration has been very fiscally responsible. All you have to do is look at what the other SD's spend to see that.

You also seem unwilling to accept the action by the school board and administration to actively look to cut expenses. It's real and they are doing it.

Thom Higgins


Yes, yes, D203's OEPP has gone from slightly below to slightly above the state average for the years you choose to highlight , although if you go back three years more, we were again slightly above the state average for those years. Your argument about a slight acceleration in spending for your chosen 7 years, lacks impact when one sees that at the end we are spending so much less than other SD's. Claiming that we are on some sort of unsustainable trajectory due to your chosen 7 years, seems tenuous to me.

As you yourself say we would need a massive referendum to get close to Lisle's spending. But of course no one in D203 is asking to do that. You also forget that the past is not prologue. With the new economic realities we are facing, any revenue growth linked to CPI is a crap shoot (see below), which is why projections assuming a conservative annual 2.5 CPI increase are now suspect. Coupled with the understanding that the economic condition of Naperville residents isn't great, has caused the district to embark on a program to cut costs with the assumption of limited revenue growth. And as teachers are a big part of the budget, next year when the contract comes up I expect there will be little if any increase in the base salaries.

What's interesting is the .1% CPI was actually a bit of a statistical fluke that really messed up funding for Illinois schools. From one of my favorites, Barry Ritzholtz:

There are several different ways to calculate annual consumer inflation.

The two most common ways BLS officials do this is to compare a) December to December, calendar year data; b) annual average CPI for 2008 versus average for 2007.

Most years, the variations between these approaches is quite minor. However, given the volatility we have seen in inflation data — most especially food, energy and commodity prices — this year, the two approaches produce very different results:

A mathematical oddity in Friday’s consumer price index means you can claim with some statistical backing that inflation last year was either 0.1% or 3.8%.

Measured on a December to December - or calendar year - basis, the consumer price index only grew 0.1% in 2008, according to Labor Department figures, the smallest gain in over 50 years and well below the 4.1% gain in 2007. But when the annual average of the CPI for all of 2008 is compared to the average for 2007, the increase was much higher, 3.8%. That was actually up from 2007’s rate. . . .

When it comes to assessing near-term trends, economists prefer calendar-year changes, which is why Wall Street research notes universally mentioned the 0.1% figure, and not the 3.8% one. The two series should even out over time, and in 2009 the calendar-year increase will probably be much higher than the average annual increase given the low base that the CPI index is starting at this year

Labor Department analysts noted the large differences were quite unusual: The two series usually line up exactly; when they don’t, the differences are only a few tenths of a percentage point.

Thom Higgins

According to Salary.com, Chicago metro area public school librarians earn between 44,000 and 75,000. The median 90% salary range falls at about 59,000.

It's so good to see that Naperville is so upper-crust as to have EVERY librarian on staff above top end of the graph and much higher, way off the charts. Makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over.

I won't even check teacher salary ranges.

Thom: I'm not going to play your boobs game any longer about what a great value SD 203 is because you say they spend less for this or less for that and test schools are at this level compared to some other school district. I'm not concerned about Lisle or St. Charles or anywhere else. I'm thinking locally Thom. I say we as a community spend too much on schools SD 203 is not always truthful with the voters. I want school board members who are not endorsed by unionized labor, citizen advocacy groups who are in part financed or by "other means" supported surrogates of unionized labor. Nor do I want school board members who are endorsed by politicans or administrators. I want school board members who do not always play nice with labor and who in the big picture consider education programs, costs over status, image and sports. The Federal government has put each family of three in this country in debt to the tune of about $115,800 since I belive November. For now, we start locally and make sure the people sent to the school board understand that the money train isn't coming through Naperville anymore. This means Dennison, Crotty, Romberg and Drapalik should not be supported by the voters. Unless of course they do not care about financial restraint.

Mr. Higgins,

What exactly is your research? Looking at the ISBE website and not understanding that D203 has increased spending faster than both CPI and state education inflation? Making a RED DOT from the Herald News story? Linking to some articles? Seeing the same data reported over and over and thinking it means something new? (I have a story of your Red Dot religion waiting to be edited)

You still have not explained my questions above. I agree that D203 students perform very well on standardized tests. I agree that D203's costs are above the state average while they were previously below the state average. I also know that the ISAT scores suffer when a certain topic is not covered by a certain grade level. Just because we have curriculum reviewed every 7 years which seems to match the tests pretty well does not mean anything other than D203 does a good job of teaching to the test and the kids can take that info and apply it.

Do you understand the concept of an exponential function. Do you understand that a^n will eventually be larger than (b^n + c) for a, b, c > 1 no matter what c is? If increase in teacher payroll (a) is greater than increase in revenue (b), guess what happens???

Regarding the trend towards deficit spending: Do you understand how the above paragraph even matters? Do you understand that the difference between payroll and income is what is left over for everything else? As a^n gets closer to b^n+c, the union will come crying about how it is for the kids. Give D203 more money. Or programs will be cut. For the kids.

You casually say that the layoffs this year are bigger. Do you have any data on what prior non-renewal notices were?

Do you believe in 100K librarians? really?

Stop trying to sell D203 to people who already live here. When do we get to see some ZOWIE numbers?

D203 would have to have a MASSIVE referendum to get close to Lisle. Our increase in limited by CPI, so what has happened before will happen again in performance, OEPP comparison, and referenda. Check out the OEPP vs performance plots over the past 8 years. Districts do not move much in rank other.




Looks like it's going to be a long two weeks. I ask you to explain if D203 is so fiscally irresponsible then why do we spend so much less than other comparable districts? Lisle next door spend 45% more and achieves less. There are a host of districts that spend more and achieve less. Barrington, Elmhurst, Wheaton St. Charles Geneva to name but a few. Take a look at my research @ qe203.org, and check the references yourself. D203 is Chicago's best bargain.

Off to the 203 Candidate Forum

Thom Higgins

I already know why most Romberg, Crotty, Dennison, and Drapalik signs appear in yards in my neighborhood. They appear in the yards of teachers and that's it. Most in my neighborhood are pretty ticked off that this current board squandered so much money so FAST.

Of course they are not laying off 300 people. The real measure is how many do they hire this summer in anticipation of the fall start up of the schools. Then come tell me how many were really terminated this year. Secondly, Weeks said it best. D 203 boards for decades, this one included think little of expense. They only think of the grand plan. Weeks is exactly right when he is critical of school spending. If the schools need more money, a referrendum is introduced. The teachers union, parent groups, and QE203 are all activated and the push is on with dire consequences and program cuts if we fail our children. It happens everytime and the result is the same every time. The tax bills for the schools soar, they spend more money on things like the early childhood center of all things and smile about what a fatastic job they are doing all the while raising the operating expense bar. By the way, it would appear anti taxpayer candidates are Romberg, (an incumbent, ugh!) Dennison, Crotty and Drapalik. My thinking is if you expect any consideration of putting the brakes on school spending, these candidates are not the ones who will do it. Romberg, Dennison, Crotty and Drapalik should NOT be seated. If you have neighbors who have their yard signs, you might pleasently engage them in conversation to determine why they support these people.

I do not get this board's logic. They lay off 300 people and claim enrollment is dropping 300. Let's assume 25 students to a classroom. 300 divided by 25 = 12 teachers. If each teacher gets a aide, that's another 12 people. That's only 24 they should have laid off. If they are really laying off 300 why didn't they do this years ago? I think most of you know the answer, they will hire almost all of them back. There is NO WAY they are cutting 300 staff.


Nope, nothing will stop this madness. The unions control this state and will continue to do so. Your only hope is to move, like I plan to do. I refuse to continue to fund this garbage. Read the link above and you will see what I am talking about.

Higgins, have fun paying the bill cause I'm not doing it anymore.

In the end most of these positions will be retained and only a few will actually be let go.

Partial List of Librarian/Media Specialist pay. Names removed so as not to be personally inflammatory.

$76,607 Highlands Elem School
$79,705 Ellsworth Elem School
$85,358 Naperville North High School
$86,493 Jefferson Jr High School
$86,579 Naperville North High School
$87,165 Steeple Run Elem School
$87,426 Maplebrook Elem School
$91,050 Ranch View Elementary School
$95,854 Washington Jr High School
$99,011 Meadow Glens Elementary School
$101,228 Scott Elementary School
$101,240 Kingsley Elementary School
$101,266 Elmwood Elem School
$103,574 Naperville Central High School
$106,055 Prairie Elem School
$106,202 Mill Street Elem School
$107,177 Lincoln Jr High School
$108,671 Kennedy Junior High School

What the Frak?? This is truly beyond stunning. Maybe I got it all wrong. Librarian/Media Specialist?? Can someone justify this?

Is there anyone, I mean anyone, running their own business who could even imagine this? Is there anyone on the board who runs their own business. Has run a business. Had to make real budget decisions on their own dime?

Higgins?!?!?!? What you got? Is this Quality Education at work? Maybe Mitrovich will see an end to this madness.

And a side story from the Sun last week about the top-rated NPL .



At the risk of being overly simplistic, can you post the number of employees by category each year and the corresponding salary and benefits gross numbers associated with them?

I'm guessing there are less than ten big categories of employees at the school district and only four or five unions involved. 20 years of history at the top level should be easy and establish clear trend lines.

This would make finding the growth rate per employee type incredibly easy and establish a multi-year history we could all base our arguments and ideas on.

Since the FEDs have elected to go the route of printing money ($1 Trillion more yesterday) and handing it to the States to reward the unions, in the not too distant future the teachers may need monthly 30% COLA raises to keep from going backwards. At lunch time, they can take their wheel barrels full of money to the grocery store.



PS IMHO when we talk about COLA + Merit+ Advance degree + bonus + pension etc it tends to fog the argument. Macro numbers are better.


By Thom Higgins on March 19, 2009 10:09 PM


We met with Dave earlier and I've been working on a Excel spreadsheet that Dave gave us trying to cram more information on it. A little earlier tonight I sent Dave some minor questions I was looking for answers to.

I expect we will post it on our QE203.org website shortly. I want to get a bit more done and then I plan on sending it to Dan to see what he thinks.

Thom Higgins

From the ISBE report cards, here are the D203 average teacher years of experience, salary, and % year over year change.













From 1998 the annual % change is about 3.53% and more recently from 2001 about 3.75%. But these numbers don't tell the whole story. The reason is that there has been a large number of retirees. For example, in 2006, the average salary stayed the same but teacher experience droppped 1.3 years. That's about 1300 teacher years of experience across the district in one year and almost 3000 over the last 10 years. Student performance has not been a problem so far but at some point may.

Also, in order for the average experience to have remained flat over the last few years, about 1000 teacher years of experience has been retiring each year. If these are say 35-year teachers, that's about 30 each year. For the average experience to be 13 years, each 35-year teacher is balanced by many teachers not near retirement so at some time the average teacher experience will start going up and add to the rate of average salary increase.


Sorry. One more.

What do the Naperville Public Library librarians make?

Anyway, I came across grade school librarians making 100k. Huh?? This is grotesque to put it kindly. Maybe I misread it. Maybe not.



Who is willing to compare this to the champion? Hopefully someone with more time than me.


I suspect nobody will feel like the true answer was found.

If someone takes salaries from 2003 to 2008, the average raise will be much different than averaging the raises in 03-04 04-05 05-06 06-07 and 07-08. By default, those who are around longer (the entire 2003-2008) tend to get off the lower left end of the pay raises into the higher values. Taking a year-to-year raise average captures the beginning teachers who get lower raises.

Similarly, including the dead-enders (too much experience for the number of classes) dampens the average raise. Including the 20-20-20 raises from a few years ago will make the average raise look higher than what we can expect in the future.

Whatever the statement is, we should be allowed to see the baseline data or at least a plot of what teachers were at each level each year.

There certainly must be teachers averaging >6.5% raises. No question about it. Maybe we can be given the base salary for prior years.



We met with Dave earlier and I've been working on a Excel spreadsheet that Dave gave us trying to cram more information on it. A little earlier tonight I sent Dave some minor questions I was looking for answers to.

I expect we will post it on our QE203.org website shortly. I want to get a bit more done and then I plan on sending it to Dan to see what he thinks.

Thom Higgins

Where is the joint statement from Higgins and Denys on teacher salaries? Has a typical teacher only been given a 3.5% increase like Higgins has been saying? No 6% plus increases? No $65,000 salaries for 9 month work after 10 years? They are probably only getting $50,000. Were the increases less than 2%?

Is Denys hiding because teachers are paid less than they have claimed?

Come on boys, we have been waiting.


Don't you just love the public unions in this state? I'm not sharing any pain!! I got mine so but out!!!

The BIG plan will be the same as it always is. We need more money and if you don't approve this referendum we are going to have to cut out sports, band, the other arts, etc. It's the same old song and dance. Cut everything but salary increases.

It is applicable to this discussion only as it is the measure used to determine how a district receives any additional revenue.

Exactly. Completely utterly absolutely and in no other words necessary for this conversation. Cash OUT > Cash IN = deficit spending. No MBA here, but seems like an easy enough formula.

So we have a known taxpayer revenue stream which can increase by at the lesser of CPI or 5% (the overall increase is actually less than that because the other revenue streams do not seem to increase as much as the CPI).

When I last checked, the increase in OEPP (which is close to expenditures for D203 on the IIRC) was greater than CPI over the past 7 years. That does not seem sustainable when the largest portion of expenditures -- teacher payroll -- goes up by more than the CPI. It seems as if then other portions of the expenditures get less than the CPI. Maybe I am miscalculating, but I doubt it if you say the average teacher salary has increased 3.5%+ per year and medical benefits have certainly increased greater than CPI in that time frame.

Forget the .1% "next" year. We seem to have a situation whereby a large part of the expenditures increases greater than collections which means everything else increase by less than collections. This has been going on for some time now.

What am I missing?

So are the Rombergs of the world going to say "No Referendum" and not do anything about the payroll? What is the Big Plan to avoid a referendum. Saying it won't happen?



Combining SD's is always unpopular. Look in yesterdays Herald. There was an article about the West Chicago SD's who did a study about combining into a CUSD and declined to do so. Frankly I think all SD's should be CUSD's as 203 and 204 are for a variety of reasons: cost control surely, as CUSD"s are more efficient, but also consistency of curriculum and vision. Combining the two 203+204 would be a nightmare if we then made the logical decision to redistrict for all the HS's. They are really big districts on their own 18,000 for 203 and I think 28,000 for 204. Figuring who's going to pay for all of 204's new schools would be tough too, especially if there was mass redistricting.

D203 and 204 did partner recently on a accounting and personnel system, and 203 and the city of Naperville partnered on a phone system purchase as well in the last year or two.

Me, I've been saying that D203 should merge with Lisle 202. They spend 45% more than 203, have only 1600 some students and do more poorly on ACT's than D203. A no brainer to me.


Very briefly, the crux of your question of why expenses are increasing more than revenue, lies in the fact that next year, as CPI for 2008 was .1%, revenue will be flat but expenses will, if left unchecked increase, and the outlook for a typical CPI of 2.5-3.0% in the near future is in doubt. Accordingly the district is responding to this new reality. They had projected a 2.5% CPI increase (could be wrong on the exact percentage) going forward.

also, again briefly, CPI isn't the golden measurement for a corporations/ or a school districts costs. It is applicable to this discussion only as it is the measure used to determine how a district receives any additional revenue.

Thom Higgins

To Novi, MI –

The MI and IL school districts aren’t too far off in spending. What the schools don’t get from property taxes will come from other taxes. You just don’t seem to like the property tax formula here.

I lived in CA for a time and my friends there couldn’t believe the high property taxes we pay here, but they also had an 8% state income tax. The govt gets what it wants one way or another, just pick your poison.


Does it make economic sense to consolidate 203 and 204 into one school district and save on the admin costs—eliminating what would be duplicative jobs like superintendent and other admin functions?

Or are the districts too big for this to be feasible?


Mr. Higgins,

Why are there cash reserves? Is this leftover from the 2002 referendum or is it additional overcollection or is it a standard rainy day fund built into prior budgets?

What is causing the trend towards deficit spending? I assume something as simple as expenses increasing faster than revenues. Why is that? What is being cut? As mentioned before, the increase in teacher payroll and benefits is significantly above CPI, so the non-teacher pay part by definition must be growing less than CPI to stay in non-deficit spending. What did Jackie Romberg say about this? What does QE203 say about this given that it has been ongoing for the past 7-8 years?

What accounting is being used so that the district OEPP has been outpacing CPI for 7-8 years yet no deficit spending has occurred? Referenda I assume.



First realize the numbers you are quoting are projections assuming nothing is done to curtail expenses. However the district is embarking on a cost cutting program to overcome those deficits.

Also, the district has cash reserves so that it can withstand the annual budget deficits thru 2014 without being broke and forced to borrow money or go to referendum (again assuming nothing's done).

I was at tonight's Meet and Greet at Naperville Central and Jackie Romberg stated explicitly that this school board is committed to not going to referendum. I've heard this repeatedly from D203 officials starting with Dr. Leis.

Thom Higgins

They should get rid of another 300 and get rid of the entire school board.


IPACE just gave NUPACE $13,430.00 for the school board elections. Be on the lookup for nasty mailers, etc.

Above we see the following budget deficits for D203:

2011-2012 $1.4 million
2012-2013 $5.4 million
2013-2014 $10.3 million

Here, and in other places such as the Sun article and other blogs, we are told the deficit has been moved up from 2017 to 2014.

I have a newsflash: THE DEFICIT SPENDING BEGINS IN 2011!!!!

In shor, our parsimonious Board is currently planning to deficit spend within two years!

If history holds true, they will then come to us and say we need a referendum or only dire things will happen to your children and housing prices.

The sky will fall!

All graduates will end up in junior college.

Home prices will drop like a rock (wait --- that already happened DESPITE all of our crazy spending on anything that was asked for!)


Classic by the board and the union. Throw there fellow employees under the bus. Hey I got mine!! Why not do like the school board and teachers did in Montgomery County, MD in the link above? Give up their pay raise so no one has to be laid off? But NO!!! Not these greedy union hacks.

United Auto Workers and employees with various airlines have taken pay cuts and given up benefits to limit layoffs. But, those teaching our future generations would never think off doing this because as they believe, they are underpaid.

For what it worth D203 is currently re-vamping its math curriculum, as part of its 7 year cycle. I forget the specifics but I'm fairly sure it is moving away from the current curriculum.

And again while I'm still trying to get specifics, the 300 layoffs announced marks a real change in 203 employment practices.

Thom Higgins

"When we got to 203, our son, from our poor (by 203 standards) was 2 years ahead in math! You guys have embraced the "fuzzy math" here but that's another discussion...203 BOE and admin really need to take a look beyond their borders and see what is happening elsewhere."

It may be better in another space...maybe you pick the topic...and I'll follow, but what is the "fuzzy math" of which you speak? What does 2 years ahead in math even mean?

Regarding this blog topic. I have no idea what it all means. I suspect it means that the media is into reporting layoffs this year, and we also happen to be talking about schools which give non-renewal notices all the time to non-tenured staff. We are also in a district with declining enrollment, so staffing cuts and redistribution of staff are likely needed.


Mark...I'm not in the "hate the school district crowd." I made a simple statement based on my direct experience with another school district. I found that the prior district had a much more solid, traditional curriculum. As a result, my kids are pretty far ahead of their 203 peers, even with the excessive tutoring that parents engage in here. Surely, there will be differing opinions among those of us that have experience with other districts. Some will think 203 is far superior than where they have been. I just made a simple statement based on what I've experienced here. The math program here is the "fuzzy math" that many districts have moved away from since the National Math Panel issued it's report on what makes a solid math program. 203 needs to look at different programs, they comntinue to use the Investigations program in elementary school...do a google about that program. Leading mathematicians have spoken at length to the program's failure.
Districts in MI get roughly $8,600 (that is instructional AND operational) per pupil. They can not ask for more. Yeah, the state's a mess and of course the schools complain that they're poor but the truth is that many of them do as well or better than districts in other states that spend in excess of $10,000 per pupil...and the property taxes are low. Every one always wants more money but I believe that many, many studies have shown that it doesn't correlate to higher student achievement.
Agian, I don't hate anything. I am just looking at the realities in front of me.

Annonymous from Novi, MI, when checking the Novi School District web site, it shows that per pupil expenditures for the reporting period 2007-08 were $11,231. The District 203 Report to the Community shows an amount of $9881 per pupil on the 2007 Report Card.
ACT scores for the two districts in the same reports show an ACT Composite score of 23.5 for the MI district. In District 203 the ACT Composite was 25.1.

I find the reaction to the schools announcement funny. It seems that the same people are always ready to vilify the district no matter what they do. They complain (and have a right to) when the district makes mistakes in the way they tax. They then complain when the district attempts to be proactive and takes steps to avoid a budget deficit. I have come to the conclusion that some of these same people would complain if the school district figured out a way to educate all the children for free.

For Anonymous regarding the Novi Michigan (Ann Arbor area) schools,

Yes, they are excellent schools that compare well to D203. The two local SD's have ACT scores just slightly under 203's.

As to the difference in costs, where I think you are getting hung up is the local burden (property taxes) vs. state funding. Illinois ranks 50th! in state financing of public education at 27.5% of the cost. Michigan ranks 12th funding 58.7% of the cost.

And Illinois schools actually spends less per student than Michigan. Illinois ranks 27th in total revenue per student, Michigan ranks 16th.

And my favorite fun fact: Michigan ranks 4th for school revenue vs. personal income. Illinois ranks 37th. This is more a indicator of the difference in personal income (greater wealth of Illinois residents) between the two states. It would be interesting to overlay the cost of living data on this. I suspect that Illinois has a higher average cost of living, and since we have a much higher personal income on average than Michigan, it seems Michigan residents are on average making more of a personal sacrifice than we do in Illinois. I suspect the economic differences between Naperville and Novi are much closer.

Hope this helps.

Thom Higgins

For Novi Admin -
According to eiaonline.com,

Novi spend per student 10,768
Naperville spend per student 9,806

The data they had was from 2005 - 2006 school year.

ACT scores from greatschools.net

Naper 25
Novi 22

Naper 25
Novi 21

Naper 25
Novi 23

Naper 25
Novi 22

Naper 25
Novi 22

Sorry to say it but the numbers dont support your claim. I can say I was educated in MI, have parents who are teachers in MI and I feel that the schools here in Naperville are by most measures better then the ones in MI.

It's interesting that Anon (Novi, MI) raised the issue of math in D203. I'm also of the opinion like some others that some sort of tracking is needed. (It seems that may be happening in some schools but not all and should start with 1st grade.) Here's something I've found.

From the ISBE interactive report card, these are the % EXCEED ISAT math scores for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade in 2008. I believe if D203 is really interested in being "best in class" they need to focus on this rather than just MEET + EXCEED.

ISAT Mathematics %EXCEED

District |3rd|4th|5th

Naperville 203|69|39|34

Barrington 220|70|60|42

Wheat/Warr 200|68|51|39

Downers Gr. 58|64|47|28

Elmhurst 205|66|46|35

Geneva 304|60|50|30

Glen Ellyn 41|68|50|40

Hinsdale 181|76|64|57

Ind. Prarie 204|66|53|38

St. Charles 303|64|55|35

Comparing D203 to several surrounding districts, it may come as a surprise how poorly D203 scores. In 3rd grade D203 is near the TOP but just one year later drops to the BOTTOM and fares just slightly better in 5th. The scores for 2006 and 2007 follow a similar trend. The math scores do improve to the upper half by 8th grade but the elemenary school math program could definitely use some improvement. One interesting thing to learn would be how Hinsdale manages to decline so little when everybody else seems to be falling off a cliff.



So how big are the pay raises going to be this year?


Anonymous from Michigan,

I have no problem with changing the funding mechanism here in Illinois; basing educational budgets on property taxes is incredibly ineffective and disproportionate.

That said, I have a hard time swallowing what you're saying. Michigan's school system, from what I've read, is in a shambles. And I would love to see the dollar-for-dollar comparison between D203 and your former district.

For a new arrival, you seem to have fallen in with the "let's hate the school district" crowd pretty quickly.

Novi, MI

How does this list compare to years past? 62 teachers out of over 1000 doesn't seem like that many. It is one too many if you were one of those to get the non-renewal letter. Are most of these 1st,2nd, or 3rd year teachers? The number seems smaller than, say, Valley View.

Any more data?




I'd be interested to hear what Michigan school district you are referring to.

Thom Higgins

We recently moved to 203 from MI. What a huge difference. The school district we came from spent THOUSANDS less per year per pupil (the state doles out the same amount to every district there...no high property taxes) had less admin per building and produced better student achievement. This district is hugely wasteful and they attempt to make residents believe that it's all worth it. They could probably cut many more jobs with little to no consequence. I don't find that 203 has lived up to it's reputation at all. The high student achievement seems to come from parents (and lots of them) paying the multitude of tutoring centers in this town to "enrich" their kids. When we got to 203, our son, from our poor (by 203 standards) was 2 years ahead in math! You guys have embraced the "fuzzy math" here but that's another discussion...203 BOE and admin really need to take a look beyond their borders and see what is happening elsewhere.

I would like to see the City of Naperville do some serious employee and pension cutting...


The district is required to officially notify teachers by a specific date 3-15?, every year. They always notify more than they expect they will let go. If enrollment doesn't follow projections, or turnover is greater than expected, more of these folks will be re-instated. That's typical. As for all of them coming back? Not a chance.

As to the budget, there’s two separate issues here. A yearly budget deficit, when expenses exceed revenues, and the point where the district spends all of its reserves and is broke and is forced into deficit spending.

Here are the new projected annual budget deficit amounts if no actions are taken.

2011-2012 $1.4 million
2012-2013 $5.4 million
2013-2014 $10.3 million

So, whereas the original long term budget projections went out to 2017 before the district was broke, now, because of the economy faltering, that projection has been shortened to 2014, even though the district will most likely start running budget deficits with the 2011-2012 budget. REMEMBER THIS IS BASED UPON THE PRESUMPTION THAT NO ACTIONS ARE TAKEN SO AS TO GET A BASE LINE.

You might want to look at the video here that the district produced:


So, no, no huge crisis, but the district is looking at the budget going forward to make appropriate cuts so as to push out the 2012-2014 dates. Considering how little D203 spends per student compared to other districts, we should be grateful that we are in the position that we are in. Many districts are in deficit now, and in dire straits.

This is a typical PR ploy by this board to make it look like they are doing something. They will end up hiring most of these folks back later this Spring or Summer and we will never hear about it.

This board is themselves in a big pickle. They projected no deficit spending until 2017, then 2014, now I am seeing projections of 2010 or 2011. They have squandered the huge surplus and know they have no chance of passing a new referendum. They have a HUGE problem on their hands now and it is ALL on the head of Suzyn Price, Susan Crotty, Dean Reaschke, Jackie Romberg, and the rest of this rubber stamp board.

Naperville citizens, you now have a chance to send a message to this board. Vote against Crotty and Romberg. You must get out and VOTE to offset the built in huge Union vote by the teachers in 203. Take a stand NOW.

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This page contains a single entry by Naperville Sun editors published on March 17, 2009 1:00 PM.

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