During a June 12 regular meeting, the Proviso Township High Schools District 209 school board voted 5-2 to approve salary raises for district administrators. The pay increases ranged from 0.5 percent to 4.5 percent, depending on an employee's classification.
Board members Theresa Kelly and Della Patterson both voted against the proposed increases. Kelly said that teachers should be getting paid more for their work, and both Kelly and Patterson had concerns with the fact that some of the employees up for pay increases had not undergone the required evaluations.
"People in the classroom should not be leaving us [because] they can go 15 miles away and make tens of thousands more and we're giving all these administrators raises," Kelly said.
Todd Drafall, the district's outgoing chief financial officer, said that teachers have actually gotten larger pay increases than administrators. He said that over the last six years, teachers have received an average pay bump of 4.8 percent, which doesn't include other increases — such as those related to obtaining additional degrees and a roughly 4 percent pay bump teachers received in 2014.
Drafall also said that support staff has received a 22 percent increase in pay during the last seven years.
The increases the board approved for administrators, he said, mostly covers cost of living increases, such as the rising cost of gasoline.
Addressing Kelly's point about teachers leaving for other districts, Drafall said that "pay isn't the only reason why people leave … some of it is money and [some of it is] sanity, [among] other reasons."
Board member Claudia Medina, who was on the team that negotiated the most recent teacher contract, said that "we were very generous and worked diligently to cross our t's and dot our i's to ensure there were equitable practices, that teachers were getting the best benefits and that they were happy." She also said that some administrators were on pay freezes last year.
Board member Rodney Alexander added that administrative salaries in District 209 are similar to those within districts of comparable size, demographic makeup and economic status. He said that there is a limit to how much the district can increase teacher and administrator pay. That limit, he added, is established, in part, by the Financial Oversight Panel — a state-appointed advisory panel.
Kelly, along with some other board members, recommended that the district conduct an overall analysis of why employees are leaving for other places.
Prompted by Kelly's concerns about the fact that not all of the employees listed for pay raises were evaluated beforehand, Supt. Jesse Rodriguez said that he will verify who had and had not been evaluated "with the entire administrative team."
One district official, speaking from the audience, confirmed with Kelly that not all employees received an evaluation.
Board member Amanda Grant emphasized that teacher pay, which is governed by a contract that the board already approved, and administrator salary increases are two separate matters.
"What we're voting on has nothing to do with teacher salaries whatsoever," she said. "This does not take money away from anyone."