A forum for comments about Naperville news and issues.

Does D203 start too early?

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After the board set August 14, 2013 as next year's starting date, district parent Tammy Schultz started an online petition asking the board to reconsider. An earlier draft of the district calendar had set the start date a week later, mostly due to a survey which found parents favored a later start by a 5-1 margin. More than 600 names already have attached to Schultz's petition. The district cited balancing the semesters and administering exams as reasons for the early start. Is it time for D203 to reconsider? Is the start date too early? Have parents been unfairly ignored?

73 Comments

All Day Kindergarten question:

The district says Title I schools will have ADK. Why are we going to spend money at River Woods (1.4% low income) and Elmwood (7.8% low income) for ADK? The data doesn't seem to support that the feeder areas would make them at risk schools.

Heck, Naper, Scott, Elmwood and River Woods all made the Academic excellence list this year.

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Mr. Higgins. I was reminded the other night that you never acknowledged that I sent $100 to NEF in your name. I remembered this after seeing your sad keys performance from the upper deck on Saturday night. My choir misdirected its special vocal talent (raspberry) at the wrong people.

-1

All pension costs should be paid for by the parents of students. It is enough, that everyone pays, individuals and corporations have had enough and should flee the state.

It is of little value that the teachers and state contribute to the plan.. All pension fund costs are paid by the taxpayers.

The overly generous payouts to government pensioners are nothing more then theft.

End the monopoly of public education, this monopoly is far worse then the monopolies during the era of robber barons

RC,

That is certainly one set of options.

Other ideas would include:
1. privatize the entire public school system,
2. outsource the employment of teachers and other large groups of school district employees to third party contractors,
3. doing away with public funding of schools as has been done historically in this state and convert it to a tuition based system where paying for the education of children becomes the personal and direct responsibility and obligation of every parent.

What is needed are more ideas on finding new solutions and a genuine discussion among those who are committed to improving the educational system in Illinois as compared to those with a personal agenda to maintain the status quo.

Illinois is on the verge of bankruptcy and the business community is fed up with the lack of action and meaningful solutions by the politicians and unions who collaborated to get us in this mess in the first place.

It's a shame because if reasonable compromises had been reached much of this could have been avoided. Now draconian measures will have to be taken and the consequences for all much greater.

I must admit I was wrong, spiking use to be included in the actuarial gains or losses when I reviewed the TRS pension plans from 1995 to 2000 in connection with the Chicago Public Schools as they were seeking parity in pension funding to TRS. However, at some time they must have added it to the actuarial calculation as noted in the Buck Consultants report

“INVESTIGATION OF DEMOGRAPHIC AND
ECONOMIC EXPERIENCE” December 2007 page 24

"Under Section 16-158(f), which was enacted in fiscal year 2005, School Districts must make lump sum payments to the System to cover the cost of liability arising from pay increases greater than 6% in the final average salary period. We think that this provision will have a definite dampening effect on future pay increases granted at ages 50 and above, and so we are recommending new salary increase rates that are closer to the smoothed actual experience at ages below 50, and that equal 6% in total at ages 50 and above."

So they assume the full 6% spiking in the calculations. No wonder normal cost is growing at higher rates.

And now Thom clings to Ty Fayner. A die in the wool republican, the opposite side of the spectrum of Thom. His comments are purely political, he is fighting the Democrats, one side (Blago and Quinn) that don’t fund the plans, the other, Madigan and Cullerton, who want to let local districts fund the cost just like they do in Chicago (a $250 million cost next year to CPS that suburban districts don’t have because the state picks up 99% of their pension funding). A real independent, authoritative source Thom.

And as to IMRF, they are solvent because the local governments make the payments AND the benefits are lower and AFFORDABLE. Here is the contrast:


IMFR employee contribution...........4.5%
.......REQUIRED FICA.....................6.0%
..............TOTAL...............................10.5%

IMRF Employer Contribution...........12.0% (varies)
........REQUIRED FICA......................6.0%
.................TOTAL..............................18.0%

TRS Employee Contribution................9.4%

TRS Employer Contribution...............28.7%

Now IMRF is nearly fully funded and TRS is not. Simply, the benefits are much greater and unaffordable. We are on the course to Greece in Illinois and California. And then what? Companies will exit the state like they are running from Greece.

And Thom, what is your solution? Triple the taxes on car leases? Oh no, that would destroy your business. Increase the income tax another 67%?

How about doubling the employee contribution and forcing local school district to pay the rest. Have the state fund whatever the unfunded liability is as of today and then exit the pension business. Make employee deductions subject to tax just like FICA to pay down the debt. Make the plan like IMRF where each school pays for its retirees. They spike, they pay.

Thom, where is your plan?

The recent discussion here misses the most relevant points (especially Thom, who has never discussed that the core problem relates to what is discussed here). The pension and other benefits are and have been excessive. The taxpayers who will wind up paying for them do not have the same pensions and other benefits. This does not include the excessive salaries that are paid to many long-term teachers on which these benefits are based upon.

There are solutions to the problem. Reduce teacher salaries to bring them more in line with the workers of America. Also, do the following three things.

1. Take the TRS (Teacher Retirement System) funds and purchase annuities for the current retired teachers.

2. With whatever remains of the TRS funds after 1. above, allocate the funds proportionately into 401-K type accounts for active teachers.

3. Since many teachers complain that they do not have social security benefits, give it to them. That is, all new teachers should contribute to social security (and the school districts pay their share). Then the new teachers will be on par with other workers. Also, if school districts want to also provide 401-K type accounts for the new teachers, the districts could contribute (matching) some monies into these accounts -- without any future liability. Existing teachers can also go forward with social security benefits and the 401-K accounts.

A side benefit to doing these things is that the property taxes of the homeowners could be reduced as payroll and benefits is the largest expense item of a school district.

"As I have repeatedly said, if the Supreme Court upholds the statute, then the State (us) is on the hook for all of it, one way or another."

Letting a lawsuit get argued up to the Supreme Court is one strategy, though a bit of a gamble because the court could decline to hear the case.

And let all the teacher union chest thumpers remember that Article 5 is far from sacrosanct. Article 14 of the Illinois constitution describes the procedures for amending the constitution.

So IF the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case and IF the Supreme Court upholds the statue it is far from being a done deal in that the constitution could still be amended which could then supersede any constitutional question settled by the court.

I will note, with supreme amusement, that Mr. Denys continues his spin. If he wants to try to now claim that pension spiking is the major cause of the funding troubles, that’s fine. But I challenge him to show a credible source making the claim.

I’ll also remind Mr. Denys that the $6 Billion he references is largely just more needless cost (and only if the lower return assumption ends up being correct) to repay the already staggering back interest expense. As I have said repeatedly, the back interest charges eclipse the original principal. Had the State paid on time the full amount, we wouldn’t be talking about any of this except for the desirability of making some minor adjustments at some point.

The IMRF is solvent because it requires the employer to make annual payments, unlike the State of Illinois. Period.
.

This Chicago Tonight episode from April 23, 2012 is worth a look. Ty Fahner of the Civic Committee of The Commercial Club of Chicago, is leading the Chicago business community’s effort to reform pensions. He confirms my position:

Phil Ponce @ 3:15 “…unions did what they were supposed to, now unions are supposed to make up the difference so they argue, is it fair ?”

Fahner: ”No, it’s not fair. The legislators should have actually put in what the union members have put in for years. They didn’t do it. “


Fahner@ 4:25 ”…you’re right, the people entitled to the pensions did not create this.”

Ponce: “you mention to one of our producers that if this had happened in the private sector… you finish the thought.”

Fahner: “if it had happened in the private sector…. there would have been prosecutions there.”


Fahner certainly had every opportunity to argue that no; the reason why the system is in jeopardy is because of excessive benefit increases and end of career pension spiking as Mr. Denys claims. He did not, because it’s not true.

It’s a quick segment, worth a look. If you watch it, or read up on the Commercial Club’s position, you will see they are no apologists for the unions. Their position is that what was done in the past was wrong, but we are too far in debt to pay all that the state owes; hence their efforts to support “reforming” the pension system, meaning cutting costs. That’s one tack. The other is to shift some of the costs onto the local school districts (meaning us). I suspect that will happen, creating its own set of troubles.

If the State changes the pension terms we will see a lawsuit that will go all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court, testing Section 5 Article XIII of the Illinois Constitution which states:

“Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.”

As I have repeatedly said, if the Supreme Court upholds the statute, then the State (us) is on the hook for all of it, one way or another.

Thom Higgins

QE203.org

Thanks We The People and -1.

1. Besides the normal cost, interest on unfunded, and payments, the other factor that influences determines the "unfunded liability" is changes to actuarial assumptions. These include salary variations from assumptions, investment variations, and CHANGES TO THE PENSOIN PLAN AND ITS ASSUMPTIONS. Variations to salary assumptions have been the most significant with Spiking being the greatest abuse. Spiking is granting employees higher wages at the end of their employment term to inflate pension benefits. So do teachers raises at 8% like 203.

Changes to assumptions are also significant. Take the change in earnings assumption. That increases the unfunded liability by $6 billion in 2012. Next year it is part of the unfunded liability that Higgins contends is totally the state's failure to pay. (The teachers union line, by the way).

Thom suggests someone should go back over the 30 years of the pension and summarize this amount. HUH? Why do we have a state budget office? Nobody does this because they do not want to promote the number.

But the Illinois Democrats have done some of the work. And they are appalled at the results. That is why they want to shift the pension burden back to the local school districts since they create much of the liability. Will they allow Spiking if they had to pay for it (in District 203, unfortunately yes).

2. IMRF is more fiscally sound since they charge local governments for Spiking. All employees are in Social Security and Medicare. And local governments and not the state have to fund the costs.

I would lead the charge against unfair transfer of costs. Unfortunately, the bad behavior of suburban school boards led by 203 doesn’t justify the change.

"Give me a link and a page number and we can parse them."

Parse huh? True to form for Thom. Chomping at the bit to charge off and manipulate some more data.

-1,

Over the years I've seen similar percentages. The question is what do they mean. Give me a link and a page number and we can parse them.

Thom Higgins

QE203.org

DanD,

Agreed.

I still think it would be far better if there was a complete and total break with any and all of these politically based plans like IMRF and TRS.

Better off to keep this from being a political web of corruption, an unfunded liability, a slush fund that can be easily raided and potentially embezzled, as well as manipulated by spiking and ineligible enrollments by political insiders, and the elephant in the room is what to do when the plan administrators make incompetent investment decisions which is part of the legacy of the current mess.

Move the whole mess to an independent third party such as TIAA/CREF and other similar plans where the proper funding goes in up front and all of the rest of what is sinking these plans becomes a mute point. Hundreds of thousands of teachers and professors across the country are members of these kinds of stable plans and we have to ask why not Illinois teachers? The most positive benefit is that up front funding removes all future liability so we aren't screwing ourselves or our children or our grandchildren by selfish choices today.

Why not Illinois teachers is simply because of all of the graft and corruption and kickbacks that come from everyone who has their hooks into the existing plans.

A quick comment:

The reason why the IMRF is so much better funded than the TRS is that, by statute, the employer is required to fully fund the IMRF every year.

Had the same requirement held true for the TRS we wouldn't be on the hook now for billions in interest and unfunded normal payments.

Thom Higgins

QualityEducation203.org

A quick note on my numbers below.

Those were before the rate of return was adjusted downward, adding another $6B to the load.

-1

Mr. Higgins wrote:

Had they made those normal payments on time, the issues surrounding the pensions system would be minimal.

The reports at the TRS site say 50-67% of the unfunded liability is due to the state not paying in. The rest -- 50% to 33% -- is due to other factors. Again, that is from reports from the most favorable site to the TRS -- the TRS itself.

So according to your beloved TRS, there is more to the problem than the state not paying. And the problem is more than minimal. Stop saying that.

-1

Good Points.

Two reactions.

1. There would still be one plan, just like IMRF. They would calculate what each district owes based on District practices. A District can allow spiking, but then their pension liability would increse.

PLEASE NOTE IMRF is already 90% funded, in fact, transfer all of the pension management to IMRF and fire all the TRS people.

2. As for past costs, a meaningful percentage was the result of District's abusing the system. Not all districts did this, mainly suburban Chicago. There is justifciation for Districts to pay those costs.

Still waiting for Mr. Denys to actually show some proof of these “huge benefit increases” granted in the 80’s and 90’s. Please tell us specifically when they were enacted and how much they are costing the system.

As I continually state, the TRS’ essential problem is that for so long, and for such large amounts, the State of Illinois did not make the full normal contribution to the system, and the interest on those unpaid contributions is killing us. The state did enact a schedule to repay the unfunded amounts but they never make the full payment (they paid about half this year further compounding the problem). Had they made those normal payments on time, the issues surrounding the pensions system would be minimal.

If Mr. Denys wants to claim the systems problems lie in benefit increases, he needs to make the case with facts and numbers from a legitimate source.

Thom Higgins

QE203.org

In terms of transferring any liability I think we need to look at this in terms of past and future liability.

If local school districts are to be handed future liability then that is something they can plan for and manage accordingly.

However, for the state to just hand over the past due bill for local schools to pay because the state did not fund the liabilities the state created I am not sure I can support.

If the state makes good on their own outstanding liabilities with each school district and then passes on the future liability I would be generally ok with that, conditioned upon knowing how much income and other taxes will decrease since the state no longer needs that revenue to fund the liability it is handing off to the locals.

We all need to recognize that any decreases in state taxes will be offset by increases in local property taxes by the schools to continue to fund these liabilities.

The scary thought is that centralized control couldn't manage these plans and having hundreds of local school districts each trying to manage these plans separately is going to result in some doing well and some being mismanaged and with this being Illinois some will be fleeced by corrupt officials, unions, consultants, and fund managers.

Cute.

Thom running and hiding. Better for all of us, who wants to endure marathon sessions that myself and -1 had trying to teach him elementary mathematics on averages. As I said, the pension issue is more complex.

The common view held by most except teachers (and other groups that were benefited such as police and firemen). The state granted huge benefit increases and never funded them. BY DEFAULT, they then become 100% the responsibility of the state. Just like that investment change increased the state's portion of funding by $6 billion (again, notice how Thom dodged answer that question--oh no, another personal attack!!!!).

And to make matters worst, the employers (school districts--WITH NO REAL SKIN IN THE GAME) supported abuses such as Spiking that further increased the state's portion of the cost.

Why not treat teachers like all other union members. Let the unions run the pension plans and have the state/school districts provide a fixed amount of cash. Then the unions would have full control of benefits and funding.

We would have areal different outcomes.

I support the Democratic plan to transfer the liability to the local districts. They should have done this 15 years ago. It gets all of the compensation costs subject to negotiation by local districts.

Just noticed yet another post from Thom Higgins.

Looks like the SPAM is still finding a way to get through.

Getting back on the topic, I have posted a recap of the Oct 1st. calendar discussion at the following link:

October 1, 2012 Workshop Calendar Discussion

As to Mr. Denys comments it's the same old story; fabrications and personal attacks.

Nothing changes.


Thom Higgins

QualityEducation203.org

I have had problems posting this entry for several days. Why a Captcha with a monitored blog?

1. I am not We The People. I know you think you know everyone else in Naperville, but there are many people who share my opinion. You know that; that is why you go to great lengths to discredit myself and Mike Davitt and all.

2. Your blabber does not address the facts. Take the change in assumption on assets. Who should pay for the "extra" $6 billion? 100% taxpayer, that is how it is structured. Maybe when that amount was identified, state law should require that half of the amortization force an increase in employee contribution. Right now, taxpayers absorb the same impact.

And this small example applies to all of the changes that that occurred primarily during the 90's and 00's as the unfunded costs increased. For example, when the state granted early retirement without a penalty like the private sector, did they IMMEDIATELY increase the funding? No. Instead, the "impact" of this change was shown as an increase to the unfunded liability.

And for the second time in this series of posts, here are all of the changes that were made to pensions (Thom, do you need three reminders to check out information????)

http://trs.illinois.gov/subsections/general/history.pdf

These changes did not come without a cost.

3. As usual, Thom stands alone. The legislature, particularly Chicago Democrats, are infuriated with suburban teachers unions and districts. They look at the abuses such as spiking and the huge deficits in their plans. So come January, this cost will come back to the local Districts. Nothing to complain about. The state is simply returning the bill that they should have never accepted.

Final thought. All of this is not the most relevant issue. Rather, are your children getting the best education possible. That question needs to be answered. I do not know if it has changed in the past five to 20 years. But people send their children to private schools for a better education. District 203 rations academic excellence in the elementary districts to just 1% of the students (there are far more gifted children). High schools was spotty.

And notice that Mitrovich AGREED. Oh, he got fired.

Didn't Thom defend him?????? Standing alone again!!!!!!!!

I think the most fitting response I can offer to the unfortunate and calumnious comments below, is to suggest the reader look at the content presented at the QualityEducation203.org website (link below) and compare it to Mr. Denys/WeThePeople’s words.

Thom Higgins

QE203.org


"Anyway, thanks for giving me the opportunity to direct people to What is the best Educational Value in Chicagoland."

Anyone who follows Potluck knows QE203.org is just your own personal bully pulpit and not any kind of real organization as you continually try to infer. QE203.org has no members, no sponsors, no donors. Only Thom Higgins and one other person whom no one ever hears from have ever been linked to QE203.org.

Anyone who follows Potluck knows that the conclusions you arrive at and publish on QE203.com are your own and have not been peer reviewed or otherwise authenticated in any way for objectivity or accuracy.

Thom you think you want to analyze the education system in Illinois and you think you have the ability to arrive at your own conclusions and then attempt to publish them on a public website in an attempt to gain credibility or authenticity. The only person you are fooling is yourself.

Apparently you do not have any advanced degrees and never did any scholastic or graduate level research because you clearly do not understand how the academic community properly conducts research much less how the underlying data and conclusions are independently and objectively scrutinized prior to any kind of public release.

When and if QE203.org starts putting whatever you or anything someone else writes that is posted on that website through the rigors of independent academic review then, and only then, might there potentially be something worth reading and considering.

Until then all you are doing is wasting a lot of electrons and tons of your own time because you have no credibility. You are just another guy with an opinion.

Geez, talk about laughable…

Just for fun, and as quickly as I can, here some responses to Mr. Denys:

1: The TRS is controlled by that evil empire commonly known as teachers who spin and mislead? Please… Can Mr. Denys point to a quote by any legitimate person involved in the pension debate who agrees with this silliness? Not a chance. I’ll also mention that the TRS uses Buck Consultants as actuaries and auditors. Buck is owned by Zerox and operates worldwide. But, because reality interferes with Mr. Denys teacher bashing, he’s working hard to convince the reader that their numbers can’t be trusted. Further, Mr. Denys claims that ”Neither the governors nor the legislators over the past 30 years have stood up to them.” Really? I’d say stiffing the TRS all those years by not even making the normal payment was doing an excellent job of going their own way. Had the governors and legislatures were in bed with the teachers as Mr. Denys claims they would have made the payments every year and we wouldn’t be in the jam we are in.

2. The TRS did just reduce their assumed rate of return from 8.5% to 8%. Is now a good time to mention that the TRS has returned 9.3% over its 30 plus year history? Regardless, the reduction in the benchmark return has increased the reported deficit. However, let’s look at the numbers.

The “normal cost” to fund the pension is about $.86 billion a year (that’s right – less than $1 billion per year) and, assuming benchmark returns, will actually decline in the coming years (even after the change in their investment return assumption) due to the introduction of the Tier 2 pension back in 2010. So, once again, had the state made their normal payments all along the state would have be paying $860 million, that’s it, and the change in the actuarial assumption would be chump change and short term.
To continue with the credit card analogy, the real problem is the “finance charge” of $3.7 billion, annually as part of the unfunded liability ($4.1 billion annually). Let those two numbers sink in for a moment. The $4.1billion is the amount that will have to be paid every year for the next 30 years to pay of the unfunded liability. Realize the State has never, comes close to paying this amount every year – in 2012-13 they are paying $1.8 billion towards the shortfall. The additional shortfall (the $1.9 billion short of the interest charge) will be added to the unfunded liability and the problem just continues to grow. Think about that for a minute, too.

The change in the unfunded liability from the change in return assumptions is $5.6 billion and if the fund returns 8% over the next 30 years (again, they have averaged 9.3% over the last 30; if that run continues, that will help) that will cost the system an additional $30 billion, assuming they suddenly start making all their payments. Again, overwhelmingly, all of this is just more interest we are paying on the unfunded liability.

3.”Added benefits during the 80's and 90's were massive” Really? Please tell us what massive increases in benefits you are talking about and when they were instituted.

4.”By the way, teachers pay 8% for their benefit (the other 1% is for retiree health). They pay 8% compared to our 6% for FICA and get 2 1/2 to 3 times the benefits.” You’re kidding right? You don’t understand the difference in how the plans are structured? Really?

5.” TRS hides the numbers (how much of the cost is caused by Spiking) and the state does not bother, but I am to personally prepare calculations from this massive amount of data?” The shorter, more honest answer from Dan would be: I’m making it all up, trying to fudge the math as best I can to fool folks, but I know ultimately I can’t make it work. Stop trying Dan, it’s not working…

6.”The Democrats (Mike Madigan and john Cullerton) now realize that teachers have exploited the system with the collusion of local school systemts (sic).” Please give us any quote from either man making this claim.

Lastly, I see once again you are having another of your Sybil moments. WeThePeople? Nice…

Anyway, thanks for giving me the opportunity to direct people to What is the best Educational Value in Chicagoland ?

Thom Higgins

QE203.org

Despite all of the rhetoric Thom is still part of the problem because he offers no solution. Arguing over the salient details of the multiple root causes of how the mess with teachers got to where it is does takes the focus of the real issue and does absolutely nothing to solve the problem.

SD 203 taxes are already outrageous. I could care less about the "value" Thom claims them to be. Just look at the bottom line cost in the tax bill and the average guy on the street is going to say these costs are nuts. Even more so when compared to how much more affordable local private schools can do the same or better job at educating children.

When the state cuts the cord and dumps the compounded problem of underfunding back on the local school districts expect a flurry of lawsuits across the state questioning the legality of such a move. If the move passes a court challenge it is likely to expect 30 to 50% increase in the school district tax which will take it from outrageous to stratospheric.

Additional court challenges will be likely by citizen groups who are fed up and who don't want to pay for it and they will ask relief by the courts to simply declare the pension plans insolvent and bankrupt.

And you tell me none of the tens of thousands of highly educated, advanced degree teachers across the state saw any of this coming while they were jostling to be first in line at the trough?

The hit and run of Thom.

1. To repeat, TRS is controlled by the teachers. They make the spin, they mislead the people. Neither the governors nor the legislators over the past 30 years have stood up to them.

2. The confusing math. Well yes, pensions are very complex math. But let me illustrate two items that causes even more confustion.

Recent reduection in assumed investment return. This change INCREASED THE DEFICIT BY $6 BILLION, maybe more. How does the TRS present it? An increase of the unfunded from 54.8% to 57.6%. Deceptive, if not dishonest.

When teachers were granted early retirement benefits (they could get their full benefit at age 55 rather than 65). This should have increased pension costs IMMEDIATELY by at least 30%. It did not. Rather, this was a change in actuarial assumption that was phased in over five to ten years AND ADDED TO THE UNFUNDED AMOUNT. Take your house. If you borrowed and made an addition that double the mortgage, you would not ACKNOWLEDGE the mortgage until five years from now. Is that a deriliction of the state funding pension?

3. Added benefits during the 80's and 90's were massive. Once again (I did provide this link before), here is the link:

http://trs.illinois.gov/subsections/general/history.pdf

The liabilities associated with this list were never recognized until years after they were granted.

4. By the way, teachers pay 8% for their benefit (the other 1% is for retiree health). They pay 8% compared to our 6% for FICA and get 2 1/2 to 3 times the benefits. Does that math work? (Both systems are Ponzi schemes).

5. Thom says prove it. TRS hides the numbers (how much of the cost is caused by Spiking) and the state does not bother, but I am to personally prepare calculations from this massive amount of data? I agree that they are needed, but I am not paid to do so, nor do I have the resources to do so.

6. As usual, Thom stands alone. The Democrats (Mike Madigan and john Cullerton) now realize that teachers have exploited the system with the collusion of local school systemts (spiking) and are going to drop a major portion of the cost back with the school districts (without any tax increase) so that teachers and school districts can correct the mess from the last thirty years.

7. And go back to my original post. Germany funds pensions 20/20 with employees. Italy and Greece, 9% employees/30% government. Illinois teachers 8% employees/29% employers. Madigan and Cullerton are giving 10% back to the local districts and say, you fund. Without revenue, they also mean reduce teacher salary increases. As I asked earlier, why not a two tiered salary schedule give that 203 has 2,000 applicants for each opening? We can solve both the spending and the pension issue with that method.

Start school at two different dates, let parents decide on which date to start. The schedule would work out with both sections starting the second semester at the same time.

second thought-pensions for teachers involved "stolen goods" from the tax payer. The State of Illinois cannot contribute to pension plans, it can only contribute money taken from taxpayers. Payout from TRS is unsustainable under any circumstance. Social Security is unsustainable, and its payouts are far less then TRS pensions.

What is amazing is Mr. Denys continuing spin.


Don’t like the data?

Try to impugn the source.


Can't make your argument work mathematically?

Throw in a nonsensical reply.


I mean really: “The state's contribution has always included a portion to pay down undfunded liabilty (debt). But the debt goes up.” This from a guy who makes his living in finance and supposedly understands the pension problem? Mr. Denys, please show us the schedule of required payments and actual payments, if you are going to make this claim. If you do, you will find that the state has already skipped making some of the required payments. It’s just like a credit card. If your payment over the years doesn’t equal your current and future purchases, your old purchases and the accruing interest for them, your debt goes up. Sure your paying a portion, just not enough.

You keep talking about benefit increases in the 90’s not being paid for. Please, tell us about them, the amounts, and the portion of the deficit they are creating.


Realize that you opponent is using facts and you got nothin’?

Attack the messenger.


Nothing changes…

Thom Higgins

QE203.org

Looking for manipulators supporting teachers union, look in the mirror. You continue to amaze me.

"TRS says" equals the "teachers say". TRS is NOT an independent entity, it is controlled by the teachers. Your quotes are not objective statements, they are biased propaganda.

Think about it. The state's contribution has always included a portion to pay down undfunded liabilty (debt). But the debt goes up.

If you pull all of the results from TRS, you will note that teachers were granted numerous "additional benefits" since 1990 that the state simply could not afford and the teachers knew that. And did TRS highlight Spiking? Of course not.

But, as usual, Thom stands alone. All of the legislators know what has happened and they are going to transfer this problem to the local school districts. They will have to solve. Cutting salary increases solves problem. Increasing teacher contributions solve problems.

Thom, it is irrelevant on what could have happened. Quit reading fairy tails.

I warned all of you, he either does not get it or is in full bombast mode again. By himself!!!!!!!

WeThePeople:

Re: ”… what about the teachers not making contributions to their own pension fund at an equitable level to what other government and private pension plans/systems.”

While you’re at it, please outline the amounts that teachers underpaid compared to other govt. or private pension plans.

Thom Higgins

QE203.org

We the people:

re: "The outrageous conduct of the teachers union lobby is well known and well documented.


Please document.


Thom Higgins

QE203.org

That is all nice and well, but the state can hardly be held solely to blame as the only one who failed to make "normal" payments.

Politicians have been kicking the can down the road for years and lots of people like Thom have let them get away with it because they were getting their cake and eating it too.

Sure the state didn't kick in what they should have, but what about the teachers not making contributions to their own pension fund at an equitable level to what other government and private pension plans/systems while receiving far more lucrative benefits/payouts than other government and private pension plans/systems?

The abuse, manipulation, and outright corruption by teachers, teachers unions, and school administrators and political insiders is an outrage. The outrageous conduct of the teachers union lobby is well known and well documented. Yet nothing changes in this corrupt state.

What has gone on "behind the scenes", the "inside deals", and "buried in legislation" only underscores the complete and total corruption of State of Illinois government.

At the very least a whole bunch of people who have been ripping off the citizens of Illinois for their own enrichment and benefit should be in jail.

Why should anyone bail out this mess? Treat it like anything else that has been mismanaged and declare it bankrupt. Why should government workers be protected against incompetence and mismanagement any more than private sector workers who have also seen their pensions evaporate?

I see we have another textbook example of Mr. Denys conflating facts to spin a narrative.

Per a TRS report that I have provided link for on the Teacher's Compensation thread, had the state made its normal payments in full when due (call it 9%), in 2000 the system would have been over-funded, 100% funded in 2007 and 77% funded in 2011.

The fact that Illinois now needs to make payments in the high 20% range is overwhelmingly a function of their past due payments, and most importantly the interest accrued on those past due payments, which now eclipses the principal.

Thom Higgins

QE203.org

Wow!!! New found arrogance by King Thommy. Where did this all come from?

First, let me focus on the current cost of funding teachers pensions outside of Chicago. Teachers pay 9.5% (some for retiree health care). Thom, go to the end of page 3 of the TRS actuarial report. The employer funding portion of teachers’ pensions is 28.63%. Amounts similar to Italy, Spain and Greece for their nationwide pension plans.

Go read last Saturday’s Wall Street Journal; it was about European pension funding. Illinois teachers are as poorly funded as Europe. What is hard to understand about this concept?

Now we are totally going to lose Thom. Based on exhaustive reviews of pension costs and funding for my clients that included reviews with actuaries, the Illinois pension funding plan adopted in 1994 was based on level of payroll funding. This method back loads pension funding when salaries are higher. The result of applying this method was to increase unfunded liabilities until 2010 to 2015.

In addition to the calculation of the deficits, investment losses and additional benefits further increased the unfunded liabilities. There were so many changes to the TRS plan that they had to print a separate booklet to summarize them. There have been at least three major recessions that have impacted plans.

Then there is the policy of Spiking. Raising salaries in the last years of employment that are used to calculate pensions is unconscionable.

The state not funding pension plans is the same rhetoric we hear from Obama that George Bush is the problem. Higher benefits should have resulted in higher contributions from both employees (teachers) and the state. Instead, there were none.

After the election, there will be a solution that will require local districts to pick up a larger portion of that 28.63% employer share without the ability to increase taxes. Since District 203 has $60 million in the bank due to over taxation in 2002 to 2008, they might help the teachers. They could also reduce salary increases as well.

So the next generation will pay for the excesses of the last 25 years with increased taxes and reduced salaries.

Now, Thom has been fighting me and -1 for at least four years since he does not understand salary increases. Be benevolent with him on the pension, the concepts and math are ten times more complex. It is simply beyond his comprehension.

Yes it starts too early.

Assuming 100% efficiency by the teachers and admin, if this time is really required why not add 30 minutes on to each day for high school, and begin classes Sept 1?

Its easy to jump to the conclusion that his is just a ruse to whine for more salary increases for the starving teachers who earn double the average income in Naperville.

Sigh…..

So many years, the same tired old technique. Take some unrelated information (or just make it up) and try to spin a story with it. Comparing some unrelated information in a WSJ story, to an erroneous contention that benefits significantly increased in the 90’s but contributions did not, is the reason for the Illinois’ pension troubles is classic Dan Denys.

My best recommendation for reading anything Mr. Deny’s posts is: Caveat Lector.

I’ll mention that there is a fairly extensive conversation about the Illinois pension mess in the Teachers Compensation thread here in the Potluck starting around July 1st.

There is an excellent overview of the various reform bills/proposals at the TRS website.

Bottom line… Had the State of Illinois made the required payments (call it 9%) when they were due, the TRS would be at least 77% funded and we wouldn’t be talking about this. The problem is that the state has for so long, and for such large amounts, missed payments, that the interest is killing them (and us).

Thom Higgins

QE203.org

Higgins,

Such arrogance. The Wall Street Journal unreliable? Much better, I am workiing with local governments addressing the 2015 time bomb for pensions (police and fire pensions get 100% actuarial funded or the PENSION PLAN, not the governement, takes the local municipalities SALES AND INCOME TAXES) and he knows more.

I would ordinarily not even dignify he comment, but talk about arrogance.

By the way, the January (post election) plan I have heard is to increase teachers contributions to 12 to 15% and transfer the balance of the contribution to local governments as a percent of salary "tax" that would phase in over five to ten year at one percent per year.

None of the plans are finalized, but they are not that far from Europe.

The Sun should not print such ridiculous posts as Higgins. What world does he live in?

"I note that Mr. Deny’s has posted some comments regarding teacher’s pensions. They are so hopelessly removed from reality they aren’t worth responding to."

That is actually Code for "these percentage numbers are counter to the teachers union agenda so let's avoid an open and honest dialogue about what they should be at all costs".

It doesn't matter to me if Thom doesn't want to take part in an open and honest dialogue. Perhaps he has grown weary from years of swimming upstream?

I have posted a recap of the September 17, 2012 D203 Board of Education meeting on the QE203.org website. There is an extensive discussion of the 2013-2014 school calendar, an update on the foreign language immersion program and a discussion on proposed changes to the district’s policy on abused and neglected children reporting.


I note that Mr. Deny’s has posted some comments regarding teacher’s pensions. They are so hopelessly removed from reality they aren’t worth responding to.

Thom Higgins

QE203.org

To Thom's pension numbers.

The Wall Stree Journal Saturday published the percentage contributions that various countires pay for their social security.

Spain EM 6.25% YER (employer) 31.08%
Italy EM 9.19% YER 31.78%
France EM 9.9% YER 32.68%
Germany EM 20.43% YER 20.85%

The oringinal premise of Illinois pension systems was a 50/50 split. However, two things happened. 1. Benefits were increased substantially in the 90's. Second, funding (both employee and employer) were not increased to fund.

For Illinois TRS (teachers retirement plan), the teaachers pay 9%, the state's contribution would be 30%. Not far off from the European comparables.

I think the German model was the goal of our funding, lets get their in five years with 2% increases by the teachers. And make local schools pay for their largess--they have probably caused more of the problem than additional benefits granted by the state.

ACT thumbnail numbers crunch...

Stick with me. Obviously the same students do not take the test both years. make basic assumptions that the same number would have taken the test and would had achieved the same score.

Illinois
2001 90,000 students took ACT with 21.6 average
2002 130,000 students took ACT with 20.1 average

Assuming the same score for the 90,000 who would have taken the 2002 test, those 90,000 averaged 21.6 or 1.5 above the 2002 average score. We have 40,000 additional students.

Teeter-totter averages:

90*1.5 = 40*x where x represents the score BELOW the 20.1 average

So x= 9/4*1.5 = 3.375 so the 40,000 additional students averaged 20.1-3.4 = 16.7 miserable.

In D203

Average ACT dropped .4 per Higgins
2001 24.8
2002 24.4

1100 averaged .4 above
200 averaged x below

11*.4 = 2*x so x=2.2

Those 200 additional students averaged 2.2 points below the 2002 district average of 24.4 so they averaged 22.2. (lots of 2s)

This is here only for reference. Note the smaller percent increase in students taking the test in D203 compared to the state (18% vs 44% in the above estimates), which will also mitigate the relative drop in score. The state picked up a large number of low income students and a few SAT-only takers, whereas D203 picked up some SAT-only takers and very few low income students.

(not proofread)

-1


(apologizing to the people who care about the calendar thread)

Dude..

Learn to read and interpret. I hear there are ACT prep classes which might help.

Adding the SAT-only takers mitigated some of the drop here specifically in D203.

In some *other* states, it is the mid-to-lower level level college applicants who take the ACT. Otherwise the SAT is the test of choice. So it depends which group is taking the ACT in each state. You do lose the non-college applicants, but you also lose the majority of top tier applicants in SAT primary states.

You are comparing different pools of test takers when looking at Illinois versus other states. Illinois is the winner among states where 100% of the students take the ACT. yawn. We beat powerhouses like...Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Colorado, Tennessee, and Wyoming -- all of whom except Colorado have a higher percentage of low income students. And in the below data set, Illinois has a smaller percentage of low income students than nationally.

http://www.eddataexpress.ed.gov/data-element-explorer.cfm/tab/data/deid/3/sort/idown/

http://www.act.org/newsroom/data/2011/states.html

You also made statements that imply the *increase* in Illinois means something other than most schools are doing ACT prep. Heck, D203 does testing starting in what, 7th grade, to prep for the ACT. I would suspect a relatively stable pool of test-takers in the non-100% states so that their prep percentage is stable, whereas it has been increasing in Illinois as principals have been forcing ACT prep into all of the classrooms.

-1

-1,

You are reaching big time in your last post, trying to live up to your “name,” I guess.

In 2001, 1125 D203 juniors took the ACT. In 2002 when the ACT became part of the state required PSAE, 1302 took the test. So we had 177 more students take the test and the the composite dropped .4 from 01 to 02. Illinois fared even worse, dropping 1.5 points. Must have been all those SAT test takers…

If you want to believe there is no difference between having essentially 100% of all students in a state take the ACT vs. a state that only has a percentage, c`est la vie!

Thom Higgins

QE203.org

zzzzzz...ACT scores...zzzzz

whereas the national score includes numerous states where only college bound students take the test (skewing the number higher),


OR LOWER if the top students are taking the SAT. It all depends on the characteristics of those taking the ACT. D203 picked up some of those SAT only students when it started testing everyone.

Just stop already.

D203 increased by less than the state did. Most schools are teaching ACT prep as part of their classes. That is not the case in states where not everyone takes the test, so we'd expect better gains in Illinois. The state also had an increase in low income from 38% to 48%. D203 went from 2.3% low income to 10.4% low income.

To the thread title: I do not care when the year starts or when it ends, except that if school starts early, please be done by Memorial Day. Make a decision and move on.

-1

Anonymous,

It would be helpful if you would actually read What is the Best Educational Value in Chicagoland? before making lengthy comments disparaging it. If you do, you will see that I look at both the top performing HS districts and Unit districts in Illinois. And yes, for the five years I have done this analysis, the top performing districts are separate HS/elementary districts and they have (combined) spent, on average, over 30% more than D203 every year. Additionally, there are lots of districts that spend more than D203, have similar demographics, but whose students don’t achieve the ACT scores that D203 students do.

For the HS districts, I use weighted averages based on average daily attendance for all the feeder elementary schools, in order to get a cost number that is comparable to a Unit district. I’ll also mention that construction costs are not included in the OEPP number (operating expenditures per pupil). It’s designed to capture how much a district spends for operations, so as to not skew numbers higher for districts that have a lot of building debt. D203 & D204 are perfect examples here. D203’s OEPP is higher than D204’s. However, when you add in all the bond debt, D204’s total costs are higher.

The Daily Herald did a similar study a few years ago, comparing what it cost to put a student through 13 years of school at various districts and the ACT college readiness score for those students. Comparing costs and scores is not an uncommon, or unreasonable, undertaking.

Lastly, the amount of underfunding for pensions is a function of salaries, and as a percentage, is no more or less in D203 than any other district. My back of the envelope calculation is that costs would rise about $600 per pupil if D203 had to cover the employer side of the pension cost. As of this moment, the talk is that districts would have to eat the cost and would not be able to levy an additional amount for it. There is also talk of raising the teacher contribution to 12% and cutting benefits. At that point they would be paying their own way. Time will tell.

For -1:

How unfortunate that you neglect to acknowledge that for the years 2003 through 2012, Illinois’ ACT score went from 20.0 to 20.9 when, nationally, scores showed a far smaller increase, going from 20.8 to 21.1. The fact that Illinois tests essentially 100% of its students, whereas the national score includes numerous states where only college bound students take the test (skewing the number higher), speaks of real progress in Illinois, especially when we consider the high percentage of low income students in the system. Is this good enough? No, but progress is being made.

In that same vein, D203 scores went from 24.6 to 25.3 in the same time period, even though its low income population went from essentially zero to 10.4% in 2011. The challenge for D203, and other districts as well, is to keep raising scores with an ever increasing percentage of low income students.

Thom Higgins

QE203.org

Mr. Higgins,

You really love you some average ACT scores, don't you.

If you go to the graph from last meeting, you will notice that NO, the ACT scores have not been steadily increasing since 2002. Some up some down, with an overall increase close to the stage average (so, ahem, a smaller percentage increase compared to the state)# . Big fricken whoop.

What is the average ACT in D203 and D204 for Naperville residents? In the Chicago magazine "rankings", Neuqua was just below one of the D203 schools because it spent *less* money per student. That's crazy talk.

Just because the students of D203 seem to score well on the ACT does not mean the school is doing something special to create those scores. The district might be failing in extracting maximum potential, yet you go along with nothing but chest thumping.

oops, wrong thread.


-1

The only person I've EVER heard around Naperville argue that our ACT test scores are related to how much we spend and thus a good value is Thom.

What a load of horse hockey.

First off Thom, put garbage numbers in, expect to get garbage numbers out. And your number are garbage.

You can not just look at high school costs in CU district. There are hundreds and hundreds of line items in the budget that reflect spending across the district. Choosing to ignore all of those line items distorts the picture to give a false sense that our per student costs are lower.

Yet each of the school districts that you want to downplay are not CU district and they have a heck of a lot fewer students. What that means is all of those fixed administrative costs are divided over a lot fewer students and since they aren't a CU district they aren't further diluted by dividing by all of the middle and elementary school students as well.

If you want to drill down each of these school district budgets and compare apples and apples and either line out or fairly proportion those line items that are inequities there would be much less disparity. Of course none of these numbers will ever be equal or easy to compare because all of the districts are in different cycles in terms of building buildings, renovating buildings, paying off bonds, etc.

And who knows where these numbers will go if all of the unfunded and underfunded teacher pension obligations ever get fairly and equitably factored in. Considering the level of underfunding in SD 203 I would expect to see a huge jump in our spending per student.

For those interested, I have posted a recap of the September 4th, D203 Board of Education Workshop on the QE203.org website.

You can also find recaps of the previous meetings there as well. These are not complete transcripts, but will give you a good idea of the tenor of the discussions.

I'll also mention that I do an annual analysis of how D203 stacks up compared to the top performing school districts in Illinois, based on ACT scores. You can read it at: What is the best Educational Value in Chicagoland ?

As I'm fond of mentioning, there isn't a district in Illinois whose students perform at a higher level on the ACT in a district that spends less than D203. The four districts whose students do achieve higher scores spend on average 37% more, a huge amount.

Lastly, any comparison of the U.S. to other countries needs to include a conversation regarding our high level of child poverty (where we are tragically #1 for the industrialized countries). When you equalize for poverty, we are right at the top of the pack in international educational ratings. Indeed, Washington Junior High students were ranked #1 in the world in the TIMMS in 1999.

This is not to say we don't have work to do, especially in inner city school districts, but we have a lot to be proud of here.

Thom Higgins

QE203.org

"Who cares about a stinking football game when our nation doesn't even crack the top 25 nations in scholastic results?"

Right on! Now drill it down and see which spot Illinois sits in US performance. Then drill it down further and see where SD 203 and 204 fit in Illinois performance. Not a pretty picture when you think about it.

Yet how many Naperville parents are completely nuts over sports.

If the same level of energy and passion that is expended on sports was put into education our kids would be performing a whole lot better.

And despite the lopsided effort that is expended on high school sports it actually performs lower than academics!

Rarely do we see a Naperville high school player who really amounts to anything, a player who goes on to be a collegiate star, and even rarer do we see someone who ends up in professional sports. And the few who have made it to the big time over the years haven't lasted long either.

For the vast majority of them they wasted a good number of academic years pursuing a dream that never was very realistic and most of them shortchanged their academic education in the process. And then their are those who forsake education for sports only to suffer a single career ending injury. Their parents AND their schools enabled them every step of the way.

To enter into a discussion of when the first day of class is scheduled in reference to the first football game only serves to exemplify how skewed the educational priorities are in some people.

You can't assume that everyone who wants a later start date has signed the petition. I can't even find it on-line.

OMG - really???? The argument initially posted was unless you have finals before Christmas - you are at a disadvantage with your college application. that is simply not true. See below the comments from Derek Price:
"""""These comments are all from parents of elementary school kids and they wish to make our high school kids LESS competitive for college and AP testing and do so in the name of their summer home? If the semester does not end before the winter break, the high school kids are at a competitive disadvantage on their college applications because of when the grades come out. To start later and still finish before break means our kids in AP classes have to learn all the same material as the rest of the nation--in 2 weeks less, all so that they can go on vacation."""""""

And I'm sorry - I prefer finals in January. Don't make a blanket statement that all high school parents and all students want finals before Christmas. My kids relax over Christmas. they return to school in January and 1 more week of classes - and then they have finals. They are not studying over Christmas to take a final the week they come back to school - they are resting and studying the week they return in January. If there is a class that is more challenging - they have a 2 week period to work on it if they so choose.

"For those of you using the Benet argument that 203 would be ok because Benet is ok you need to remember that Benet is a selective school. They are not required to take and educate all students. You can not compare Benet's college acceptance rate with that of a public school system."

Oh, please not that same tired and untrue argument yet again? Try to remember that Benet has a lot of students who qualify as a family legacy who do not meet even close to the academic average of Benet or even SD203, so in some regards they are not selective and by their own voluntary rules have to educate everyone who meets their rules and who can afford the tuition. Consider for a minute what their average ACT score, national merit scholars, and college acceptance rate would be if it truly was 100% selective admissions... like many of the public schools in CPS.

Plus, try to follow the conversation if you are going to post. This isn't a discussion of whether or not Benet or SD203 college acceptance rate is higher, even though everyone pretty much knows Benet's is higher.

This is a discussion about when the first semester starts and ends and if that helps or hurts students, especially seniors who are in the middle of the college admission process.

There are a lot of parents who want the semester to end before Christmas and then they want to go off on vacation, visit family, etc and not have to worry about homework, studying, papers, assignments, etc.

Yet how many of these parents who take time off at Christmas are still glued 24/7 to their blackberry's afraid to miss an email at work? If school is readying students for the eventual workforce should school be taken any less seriously?

For true students having semester exams after Christmas is really a blessing because it gives students an advantage of using those 2 weeks to their advantage to go over and make sure they have mastered the materials. Sure some do, some don't. That is why I said a true student. But that is why even at Benet some kids get A's and some kids get D's. And even at Benet some parents get it and some parents don't.

6.5% really isn't that bad when compared with the percent of voters who recently turned out for the primary in Naperville.

In a republic it is the passionate few who are willing to go to the polls and vote who end up getting their way.

And just because someone hasn't yet signed the petition doesn't mean they won't. Thousands of parents probably don't know about it or weren't offered a chance to sign.

If there are so many parents in favor of the current calendar how come they aren't circulating a petition to show how many of them support it?

Lousy math always equals a lousy answer.

Anon2,

Do you always have this much trouble following a thread? You might want to first read the history before you waste so much time inserting your foot in mouth...

Since you are describing a negative confirmation, how about we demand a petition for those who actually WANT an early start date.

rockin post. I really thought it was thorough. Thanks for the sharing!

Has anyone done the math on the number of petition signatures? There are approximately 18,000 kids in the district. Figure about 2 kids per family (some have more some have less but I would guess that 2 per family is about average) so 9,000 families have kids in the district. There are 630 signatures on the petition. I would guess that some of these are husband/wife signatures so less subtract 10% to compensate for that. So you have 590 signatures with a total population of 9,000 families. If you divide it out you end up with about 6.5% of the families wanting changes to the school calendar. Even if the number of petitions grew to about 2500 you only have less then 30% of the district population in favor of a later start date.

1. applications for colleges start between 8/1 and 9/1 of the student's senior year
--Not sure what timing of exams has to do with college acceptance rates. Can you please expound?

2. It appears to be somewhat of a trend for colleges to move to a 'rolling application process' as opposed to a drop dead date. That means your acceptance or denial will be based on junior year transcripts and you could know as early as mid-September of the senior year if you're in.
--Again not sure what this has to do with school start dates.

3. ALL colleges said the last ACT test date they could guarantee usage of for determining acceptance is September of senior year. After that, there is not enough time to process the test and get the scores - yes - even for January application cut-offs.
---The timing of final exams are what is in question not the timing of the ACT.

4. It's all about the junior year with regards to grades. Senior year transcripts are used to make sure your student didn't slack his/her senior year. Decisions are about junior year
--Again not sure what this has to do with the timing of the school year.

5. AP tests are given in May - at least at Benet. That is AFTER the deadline students have to commit to a college and receive refunds for deposits. The application process doesn't involve AP scores at all.
--This has absolutely on bearing on when school starts.

6. To be considered for maximum college scholarships, manys schools have a December 1st application deadline. Forcing finals in December for many colleges is still too late. These schools have combined scholarship apps with the admissions app.
--Again it has nothing to do with the subject of when school starts.

6. Most of the schools my daughter applied to had either a November 1st or December 1st deadline. Some majors, such as pharmacy, have an earlier cut-off than the general admissions office and that date is well before the end of December.'
--We are happy for your daughter, but what does this have to do with the school start date.

7. Over and Over again, they all said, IF YOU REALLY WANT TO COME HERE AND WE ARE YOUR FIRST CHOICE, THEN APPLY AS A DIRECT ADMIT. That means if you are accepted, you are committed to that college and you stop all other college apps. It's a committment you have to make, but if you really want that school, then apply direct admit. Again, these admission dates are well before the end of December.
--Again has nothing to do with the school start date.

For those of you using the Benet argument that 203 would be ok because Benet is ok you need to remember that Benet is a selective school. They are not required to take and educate all students. You can not compare Benet's college acceptance rate with that of a public school system.

Also, you seem to be focused on the Sr. year. The timing of exams affects all grade levels not just the Sr's. For those of us with kids in HS we see it as a huge advantage to have finals done prior to the Christmas break. The kids seem to do better, and it takes the pressure off of them over the break. They can spend a couple of weeks relaxing instead of studying for the finals.

One thing that is often missed is that those of us in the Midwest are used to starting in early September while the majority of the rest of the country starts in mid August allowing them to finish exams just prior to Christmas break.

Hiya, Anon.

Actually, I wasn't thinking along the lines of the Japanese, but more along the lines of Utahians (Utahers?). Schools in Salt Lake City run throughout the year, but the students have three weeks off around Christmas, three weeks in Spring, three weeks in Summer, etc.(that's an approximation, natch). This keeps the students engaged while also keeping them in school longer.

That's the way to go.

marko56,

Yeah, much of what you said is true.

In Japan, for example, students go to school 11 months and only get off the month of August. They also go to cram school in the evenings and on the weekends which makes for long days and 6 full days of study every week for most of the year. I'm not sure we need or want a school a calendar that mimics another culture?

Agrarian calendars still play a role in America even if not in our immediate area. So does the local, summer tourist industry as evidenced by the laws in Wisconsin and Michigan.

This is just another example of bungling by our school board. Another example of something the school board couldn't get right the first time. Another example of how disconnected the school administration and school board are with parents, students, and family life.

With over 80% of your property taxes going to fund the school district you expected more than this? You've got to be kidding me. This is Naperville. Our tolerance level for corruption, incompetence, and lack of transparency is legendary.

Who cares about a stinking football game when our nation doesn't even crack the top 25 nations in scholastic results?

As a Benet parent who has sat through over 30 college presentations, Here are the messages and advice I heard over and over -
1. applications for colleges start between 8/1 and 9/1 of the student's senior year
2. It appears to be somewhat of a trend for colleges to move to a 'rolling application process' as opposed to a drop dead date. That means your acceptance or denial will be based on junior year transcripts and you could know as early as mid-September of the senior year if you're in.
3. ALL colleges said the last ACT test date they could guarantee usage of for determining acceptance is September of senior year. After that, there is not enough time to process the test and get the scores - yes - even for January application cut-offs.
4. It's all about the junior year with regards to grades. Senior year transcripts are used to make sure your student didn't slack his/her senior year. Decisions are about junior year
5. AP tests are given in May - at least at Benet. That is AFTER the deadline students have to commit to a college and receive refunds for deposits. The application process doesn't involve AP scores at all.
6. To be considered for maximum college scholarships, manys schools have a December 1st application deadline. Forcing finals in December for many colleges is still too late. These schools have combined scholarship apps with the admissions app.
6. Most of the schools my daughter applied to had either a November 1st or December 1st deadline. Some majors, such as pharmacy, have an earlier cut-off than the general admissions office and that date is well before the end of December.
7. Over and Over again, they all said, IF YOU REALLY WANT TO COME HERE AND WE ARE YOUR FIRST CHOICE, THEN APPLY AS A DIRECT ADMIT. That means if you are accepted, you are committed to that college and you stop all other college apps. It's a committment you have to make, but if you really want that school, then apply direct admit. Again, these admission dates are well before the end of December.

questions to ponder....
1) I suppose there are semester AP classes out there, but I haven't run across one. That means your school has until the beginning of May to teach your child all of the material. My daugher took AP Calc and received a 5 in both the overall score and the AB portion of the test. it's funny, because in 6th grade at a 203 junior high, her math teacher told us she wasn't honors math material because she didn't come home and do math problems 'for fun'. I was also told that I should be happy one of her classes will always be an easy A for her. That was the defining moment for us when we decided to look elsewhere for high school. Fortunately, we ended up at Benet where she thrived and was challenged each day.
2. Do you really think that 203 guidance works over Christmas Breat to get transcripts out immediately after your student takes their finals?
Do you really think colleges and universities have people working over Christmas break to process your student's transcirpts?
3. Do you really believe that the majority of schools in our country have finals in December and that if you don't, you're behind?????

I highly suggest that as high school parents - you do the following
1. Go on as many college visits as possible
2. ASK QUESTIONS. Learn how the application process works. Ask if 1st semester transcripts will be used to determine acceptance. Ask, ask ask
3. Access college websites. read the information they have. EMAIL the college and ASK QUESTIONS.
4. I seriously think some of you are being misled with regards to the application process.5. Do you really think your students has a better chance fo getting into the University of Illinois if you have finals in December? NOT - you have a better chance if you move to another state.

If, in over 30 college visits, I have mis-understood what I have heard over and over again, then shame on me. But, NOT ONCE, did I hear someone say you really need your senior year transcript for the application process. NOT ONCE.

This is happily my last year in 203 as we will once again, be going private high school. I do owe a lot of thanks to that 6th grade teacher who opened our eyes to private schooll education.

If the high school parents want to dictate how 9 years of younger kids spend their summers, perhaps one of the following could happen:
1) the high school adopts their own calendar and starts 2 weeks earlier than preschool - 8.
2) The high school splits off and becomes their own school district and then they can beat to their own drummer and not affect the k-8 kids.

GL.

The school calendars have gotten crazier and crazier. Not helping much is a meddling state that dictates with too heavy of a hand how many days, how many hours per day, etc. Also not helping much are all of the workshop and teacher institute days that push the ends of the calendar in opposite directions. And God help us if the weather is bad or a pipe bursts and schools are closed for a day or two.

School should start the day after Labor Day. Mid-August is just too soon and just too hot. School should end in early June.

Trim some days off of winter and spring break. Conduct all of the workshops and teacher institute days before school starts or after school ends and eliminate a couple of the other fluff days off and we can have a calendar that actually makes sense.

Derke Price,

Sorry, but there isn't a grain of truth in your arguments.

The date the semester ends puts students at a competitive disadvantage on college applications? That's simply not true! Go over and take a look at the Benet calendar. This year the first day of classes was August 27th and final week for first semester is Jan 14-17th. Second semester starts Jan 22nd and second semester finals are June 3-6th.

Benet first semester has always ended after Christmas break and their grades, AP scores, and ACT test scores certainly have never shown any evidence of suffering from it.

Anyone who thinks Benet students are at a competitive disadvantage for getting their grades in for college admissions doesn't know much about the college admissions process these days and knows even less about AP testing.

My kids both attend Benet Academy whose finals are the week before the MLK holiday. I truly appreciate my kids having the Christmas break to study. Benet does very well in getting their students placed in highly respectible colleges so I don't agree at all with the comment the kids are at a competitive disadvantage. I'm sure you could contact the guidance office, but we place students at highly competitive colleges all of the time. The 2012 class had all but 1 student commit to a college. There were double digit students getting into Notre Dame, I've never once heard a Benet parent say their child didn't get in because finals were in Januiary. Having gone through the college application process multiple times, that point makes no sense. Who ever is using that as a selling point is mistaken and using it to get parents to agree to finals before Christmas and the early, early start date.

As grandparents we are appalled at the proposal to
start the District 203 school year even earlier than in
2012. If any change is made , it should be to start
later, preferably after Labor Day. Reasons incliude:

1. The last half of August is generally warmer and
more "summer-like" than the first part of June.

2. The early start in August takes away the school-
age lifeguards which causes the Beach and local
swimming pools to drastically curtail their hours of
operation on subsequent school days.

3. Having the end of the fall semester and exams
after the Christmas vacation allows extra time for
completion of term papers and studying for exams.
Surely the students can remember their lessons for
several weeks.

4. If there is a problem with one semester being
longer than the other, move some discretionary non-
class days, such as "teachers' institute" days from the
longer semester to the shorter one.

Repectfully submitted,

Olive and Bruce Gilbert
116 Thrush Lane
Naperville, IL 60540

Maybe it is "too much of a good thing?". In the past, school has often started 2 days before the first football game. This year, it was a week earlier than that - the issue is that next year, it is 2.5 weeks before the first football game. Because it is 8/14 instead of 8/15 this year, it seems like it is only 1 day earlier, but really it is 1 week earlier than this year. Can't we agree that this years schedule ( starting 1.5 weeks before the first football game ) is early enough? Another week is just too much!!! Let school start on 8/21 next year, and standardize on 1.5 weeks before the ( IHSA standardized ) first football game.

The fact that we still base our school year on an agrarian calendar is a big problem. The whole notion of leaving school during the summer was based on the fact that our children had to help raise the crops. That isn't the case any longer, but we in the U.S. cling to that timetable while the rest of the world keeps their kids in school much longer throughout the year.

I've got friends in states where they have year-round school, and the differences are significant. The kids still get significant time off, which their parents can use to plan vacations, but the students don't need a big chunk of the new school year to re-learn what they forgot over three months. We need to think about changing our school year entirely.

Hey parents, quit complaining so much, put your children in private schools that are willing to cater to your time preferences. Public schools are a hinderance to progress.

As the parent of a high school student in District 203 I welcome the mid August start of the school year. Finals ending before winter break begins is of MAJOR value to the students. I have children that have experienced both ways (before break and after). Younger students don't have that issue to deal with. Parents of younger students don't always see that side. For families that include college aged students as well, the summer is basically over by mid August when many of the college kids must return to campus. For kids that will be seniors in 2013/2014 the current calendar will be right in sync with the college calendar they will soon be following. Missing a Labor Day festival or timing a vacation differently won't affect a child's success in the classroom or his or her grades as they prepare to enter college. Finals after a break might. And trust me, if you are upset about missing a family gathering now, wait until the kids have to study over the 2 week winter break. To benefit STUDENTS the calendar should stay as it is right now. As parents we have to think about what is best for them and I believe the school board did just that.

These comments are all from parents of elementary school kids and they wish to make our high school kids LESS competitive for college and AP testing and do so in the name of their summer home? If the semester does not end before the winter break, the high school kids are at a competitive disadvantage on their college applications because of when the grades come out. To start later and still finish before break means our kids in AP classes have to learn all the same material as the rest of the nation--in 2 weeks less, all so that they can go on vacation. Obviously these parents value their own child's competitive standing in school or they would simply pull their kids from school (which they could easily do for a few days) to join their relatives. So the real message is: Let's sacrifice entire classes of high schoolersa so my child can play on a beach.

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