Salaries and Pensions
State of Illinois
City of Chicago
New Trier 219
Administration and Teacher Salaries
How Schools Pad Pensions
How the scheme works:
Teacher Pensions Put Strain On State:
End-of-career salary spikes inflate costs for Illinois retirement fund
by Diane Rado and Darnell Little, Chicago Tribune, Sunday, June 29, 2003, page 1.
"More than 70 percent of full-time teachers and school staff who
retired in the suburbs and Downstate Illinois in the last decade
pocketed double-digit pay increases and other perks shortly before
leaving--costing state taxpayers millions in higher pension payments,
a Tribune investigation has found.
Using such salary spikes to boost pensions is legal in Illinois but
highly unusual and sometimes outlawed elsewhere ...
The perks have been doled out even as the economy soured, local
districts battled deficits, and the Teachers' Retirement
System ... struggled with shortfalls.
"But though local districts pay for the perks initially, the cost of
the inflated pensions that result is spread to taxpayers statewide,
who largely fund the TRS system.
"[B]ig pay increases pad pensions because the highest salary years are
used to calculate retirement pay for years to come. ...
"The salary of Schaumburg High School business education teacher
Martin Barski rose from $91,151 to $142,536 in his final years with
District 211, district records show. At 55, Barski retired last year
with a pension of about $72,000 ...
"'This is insanity,' said William Huley, president of Arlington
Heights-based Northwest Tax Watch. 'It's all about padding [pensions]
at taxpayer expense. The salary and benefits are out of control.'"
- Big Pay Boosts In Last Years Blow Out Retirement Packages
by Tim Novak, Chicago Sun-Times, July 13, 2003.
In this spectacular front-page package, district superintendents come
under fire for lavish benefit and retirement packages.
In addition, the Sun-Times carried this caption ...
Henry Bangser, New Trier High School's superintendent, is looking
forward to retirement in 2006. And why wouldn't he? A flurry of 20
percent pay raises will hike his annual pension as high as $232,500.
That's more than governors get. And even if you don't live in
Bangser's rich North Shore district, you'll pay for it.
The complete set of articles from the Sun-Times report are available online here:
- When John Conyers retired in June 2003 as superintendent of the Palatine district, his salary topped $300,000
- The superintendent of New Trier will retire in 2006 on a pension
of $232,500 per year:
"Forget the gold watch. Henry Bangser already got his retirement
gift--a series of 20 percent raises that will nearly double his
salary during his last five years as superintendent at New Trier High
And those hefty pay raises will keep on giving after Bangser retires,
at 57, from the affluent North Shore district on June 30, 2006.
They'll boost his pension to as much as $232,500 a year. That's more
than he ever made in a year at New Trier until this past school year.
It will be one of the richest pensions of any Illinois public servant."
- The superintendent in Deerfield/Highland Park has a salary and benefits package
worth $261,382 for this year
- When Paul Vallas resigned as chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools,
he walked away with a check for $325,279
- JoAnn Desmond retired in 2002 as superintendent of a district that includes
schools in Highland Park and Highwood.
In "retirement" in 2003, she started work part-time (she says "eight or nine days a month")
as superintendent of the tiny Bannockburn district. Her combined annual take is $217,000 --
$70,000 from her part-time job plus a $147,285 pension from her old job.
- The lowest-paid superintendent in Cook County oversees a single school in
Thornton, and he gets a total compensation near $100,000. He muddles through somehow with his paltry
six-figure salary: "If I was doing this strictly for money, I would probably be in another profession."
Apparently, a common ploy used to fund these massive giveaways to fat cats is
for a district to grant astonishing pay raises in the last few years before
retirement. This pegs the salary at a very high level, in order to trigger
commensurate pensions at a very high level. Why would a district do this? Easy:
the district pays the salary for a few years, but it's the state that is
stuck with paying the pension!
The same article also goes into details in explaining some additional strategies
used in the giveaways at public expense, including,
- Car allowances
- Pension contributions
- Personal security
- "Rabbi trusts"
- Sick days
- Housing allowances
Officials Try To Reform Complicated State-Funded Pension System
by Jim Muir and Caleb Hale, Southern Illinoisan, August 21, 2005.
"There are numerous loopholes state employees can and do use to pad retirement benefits.
Jon Bauman, executive director of the State Teacher's Retirement
System, recently discussed a retirement package that will pay James
Hintz, a financial officer at Adlai Stevenson High School, more than
$200,000 annually as long as he lives. Hintz received end-of-career
stipends and pay raises of more than $100,000, which ballooned his
final year salary that is used to determine his pension benefits.
Bauman called the retirement package 'legal, but devious.'
In Mr. Hintz's case, the district has taken a small opening and
driven a truck right through it,' Bauman said. ...
Arlington Heights Superintendent Robert Howard received pay raises of
$78,370 over the last two years prior to retirement, plus $45,500 for
91 sick days. In the Palatine Township Elementary District
Superintendent John G. Conyers received a 60 percent salary increase
over his last four years prior to retirement. This boosted his final
pay to $350,000.
And in the New Trier Township High School District, Superintendent
Henry Bangser received a series of 20 percent pay increases over his
last five years before retirement, nearly doubling his salary to an
estimated $346,000, not including other bonuses he was set to
'Taxpayers are already paying incredibly high real estate taxes to
cover school funding but some of these folks act like there is this
hidden pot of money in Springfield ... And as long as
the local school district isn't paying for it, then its okay.'"
U-46 Super's Pay Far Outpaces Peers Across The Nation
by Emily Krone, Daily Herald, February 18, 2007
"Elgin Area School District U-46 Superintendent Connie Neale this year
will be paid at least $100,000 more than any superintendent in the
country directing a district of similar size and wealth. ...
Neale's current package weighs in at $329,667.
A current proposal would inflate that package to $391,403 to lead
Illinois' second largest school district.
The disparity stunned some educators and legislators.
'This is about money and contracts and selfishness,' said state Sen.
Chris Lauzen of Aurora. 'What this does to damage the reputation of
public education is just disgraceful.'"
Where "Contractually Corrupt" meets Institutionalized Greed
by Bruno Behrend. Excerpt:
"I've covered (and will cover again), the 'institutionalized greed' of the
Government/Educational Complex. One of the most egregious practices,
which if uncovered in a private corporation would be grounds for legal action,
is the Teacher's Retirement System.
In River Forest, the former Superintendent (a Ms. Tyra Manning) went from $184K in 2002,
to $193K in 2003 to an obscene $226K in 2004, where upon she retired,
soaking up a pension inflated by these gross increases.
Ms. Manning is bankrupting the pension system and cheating younger teachers."
This article goes on to document how many districts contractually build-in
this massive taxpayer-funded giveaway, citing language from the Cary school district
union contract as an example.
- Editorial, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Sun-Times, June 1, 2005:
"When you read about James Hintz's salary and pension benefits you
can only feel one way: mind-blowing outrage. Hintz, in charge of
finance for Adlai Stevenson Township High School District 125, has
had his salary sweetened by so much over the last four years that he
is going to leave his job next month with an enviable $200,000 yearly
"And you, Illinois taxpayers, are on the hook for it...
"Schools need to start acting like businesses because their
stockholders -- the taxpayers -- are wondering how their money is
being spent. It should go into the needy classroom, not into rich
end-of-career salary hikes and 35 years worth of sick days."
Are They Worth That Much?
Are district bosses worth that much? Isn't a superintendent kind of like
a corporate CEO, and so should be paid highly?
- "Should a Superintendent Be Paid Like a CEO?"
by Dave Ziffer. A classic!!
"Superintendents do not do anything even remotely akin to the primary
function of a CEO. Superintendents do not operate in a competitive environment.
They do not establish new markets for anything. They have no competition and so
do not have to steal others' market share. They do not have to employ military strategy,
or in fact any strategy at all, to win or hold market share. Actually, superintendents'
'markets' are pretty much handed to them on a platter by the state..."
Learn much more about the roles of superintendents and other school administrators here: