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The Day After: What's Next for Mary Drew Elementary School Teachers?

Now that a decision has been made to close the school, Summit Hill school district Supt. Barb Rains said she will be determining the staffing needs for D161.

Only hours after Summit Hill School District 161 board members voted to close for the 2012-13 school year, Principal Kathy Klein was holding an assembly for students, teachers and staff Thursday explaining what that decision would mean for them.

Klein--sometimes through tears, according to those in attendance--told the children that the closing was an example of adults having to occasionally make adult decisions, and despite that, everyone was still determined to have a good year, especially with Illinois Standard Achievement Tests scheduled next week.

"She did a wonderful job of setting the tone in the morning," said D161 Supt. Barb Rains, who spent much of the day talking with Mary Drew teachers and staff about the closing, which was done by the board in order to chip away at the district's $3 million deficit over three years. The board wants to cut at least $1.4 million of that this year.

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Now that the board has made its decision to close Mary Drew, Rains said her next step is to figure out the staffing details for the district with one less school. Mary Drew eachers expressed curiosity more than fear Thursday on what district schools they might end up teaching at next school year. Some board members Wednesday said the 16 Mary Drew classroom teachers would not be let go with the school closing, and they would "follow the students" to the other schools in the district. 

Although she wouldn't guarantee that no Mary Drew teachers would be eliminated, Rains said it was likely that most would stay on because most of them were tenured, meaning they would be found other spots in the district. As part of the board's cost-cutting model, nine teaching positions are to be dropped district-wide, and Rains said she wasn't sure specifically how many more would be cut because of the closing. The financial model involving closing a school states that there would be a 5 percent staff reduction, but that would be spread throughout the other district schools. Teachers must be informed if they are being let go by the end of March, Rains said, adding that the board will need to address that at its March 28 meeting.

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Board members also indicated Wednesday night that Klein would be retained by the district in a new position. Rains said she agreed with that statement, but she didn't know specifically what Klein's future role would be.  Principal Jan Zevkovich announced she was retiring after the school year Wednesday, meaning there would be a principal opening in the district for 2012-13.

As for Mary Drew support staff, Rains said an effort would be made to try to find other positions for them in the district. Those employees, such as clerical workers and janitorial staff, are not guarantee spots at other schools.

Joe Vince (Editor) February 24, 2012 at 06:50 PM
@Long Time Frankfort Square Resident: No committee was formed, but Supt. Rains held public forums where community members were able to share their ideas, concerns and suggestions. A superintendent's advisory committee has been formed that includes parents and residents of the community. Joe Vince Local Editor, Frankfort
workingtogether February 24, 2012 at 07:25 PM
I have read them I am sure and for all of those there is one to support FDK. Just like if you look at the numbers 61% of schools in the US offer full day programs. There is going to be research for both. Just like there is tons of research for and against gifted programs and research for and against certain vaccines. I ask you to look at what is going on in our specific program and you will see that there is a lot of educational value. These children are getting time for follow up lessons and get more reteaching in the afternoon. They also have more time in the afternoon to develop their writing skills. Again, I know this is true for our program because I have seen it. It was also one teacher who said they had lower kids from the FDK then HDK at the board meeting. I am sure that is not a true study and not typical. And again if K doesn't need the extra time, I ask you why 1-4 need them? Why is 1st grade some magical number that children need full day? I am at the schools a lot too, so yes I do know there is security, but it is your right to observe classes in our district and with a request you can. I know this because before I moved here that is what we did and we did not have children in the district or even children old enough to attend. We looked at both private and public and observed both. We did not just go in and walk around and if you set up one of these observations neither would you. You do have this right.
Tracy Chiappetti February 24, 2012 at 07:47 PM
@ A Concerned Parent - I NEVER once said or believe any kid or school was "dirty"...that is just ridiculous! My point is that older structures typically need work more so than a newer or renovated structure. From a financial aspect, the board needs to compare ALL buildings to determine the most cost effective measure for this district to get out of the mess we are in! To imply that ANY kid that goes to ANY of our schools is "dirty" is just insane and down right maddening if someone thinks that!
LetsBeHonest February 24, 2012 at 07:53 PM
I completely agree. My daughter did come home and tell me her friends were told this by her parent and was in tears because she didn't want to be dirty, the kids will repeat what parents say though and no child came up with that on their own. @tracy not saying you've said it..just saying it is out there.
LetsBeHonest February 24, 2012 at 07:53 PM
their parents**
LetsBeHonest February 24, 2012 at 07:56 PM
no they are not. kids are just kids
taxpayer February 24, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Com'on now........are parents really talking within ear shot of their children?? If they are, shame on them. These little kids repeat what they hear, without really know what they are repeating. We need to remember that the children in MD originally came from FS, IT, and Rogus. If in fact parents are saying this to their children, they need to get their noses out of the air. We all live in the same community, I truly believe not a single school in 161 is better then another.
Tracy Chiappetti February 24, 2012 at 08:13 PM
@LetsBeHonest - that is just sad & appalling to hear that parents are saying something like that! And yes, the kids don't come up with things like that, it is definitely the parents...truly sad!
Tracy Chiappetti February 24, 2012 at 08:21 PM
@A Concerned Parent - I completely understand where you are coming from on this, I would be furious too!
I love Frankfort! February 24, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Barb was in the process of forming a financial committee for the community. My husband volunteered and filled out an application that was due 2/15. He still has not heard back about the formation of the financial committee. I believe several board members are in a HUGE HURRY to get this plan of cutting costs down quickly and before anyone can change their mind and give them other sugggestions for cutting costs. Remeber that this plan of building new schools, selling the old DO, converting Mary Drew and the DO together, amongst other building changes happened during Keith Pains time in office. Something is definetly going on with some of the board members. I miss the Rogus-Middleton-Schultz days.
J.Rowe February 24, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Closing MD or any of our schools is a loss for our district. Unfortunately something had to be done. My daughter would have gone there next year. My son went there the year it opened for 4th grade. I was not happy he had to change schools. A week into the year he was just fine. He remembers it as the year he had his favorite teacher (Mr. B.). However, I kept my thoughts to myself. It was a great school year for him. Our children will follow our example. It's time to play nice in the sandbox. Let's make this as good a transition as we can for all the children because we need to support them and each other! I hope people will continue to attend board meetings. They've poked a sleeping bear. Let's keep one eye open so this doesn't happen again!
Donny February 24, 2012 at 10:30 PM
The Patch must be giddy over the past few days, with this issue and LW grad requirements changing. So much activity going on; it is quite a show! The interactions between posters have been fantastic and hilarious.
Dan February 24, 2012 at 11:31 PM
"Summit Hill's teachers' union, said the executive union board met and decided against opening up the teachers' contract early. The contract expires at the end of the next school year, and a contractual pay increase in it is one of the contributing reasons the board is facing a tough financial situation." This is a quote from the original article on the school closing vote. Check out District 161's website and you will find the present labor agreement along with administrator pay and perks and other financial information. After review you can form your own opinion as to what is causing the financial problems for the district. Unfortunatly the lack of vision and financial understanding of past boards that approved and negotiated these unrealistic and unsustainable labor agreements and administrator contracts are one of the biggest contributing factors to the districts financial problems. It is a process that will take a special board making tough decisions that some will not like. The balance of taxpayer and parents fee cost with the district's employee demands is going to be a real challage. To be continued...
debbie February 25, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Do any of you have a brain upstairs? Read the paper...see the gas prices...watch the news...your days of "spoiled entitlement" are over. The kids will be fine. The schools need to be closed and teachers let go. America has to start saying "no". I am sure 99% of the parents in this area went to 1/2 day K. They are all just fine....I think
Dan February 26, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Do the math---27% in raises for the teachers per labor agreement with union negotiated and approved by school board equates to millions of dollars per year at taxpayer and parent expense. 100% medical and dental coverage payment again all at taxpayer and parent expense. 17 plus paid sick/personal days per year that can be accumulated and cashed out at retirement, again equates to millions of dollars. Up to 30% raises plus normal raises plus cost of living once retirement is declared plus up to $12,000 dollars or more cash payout for retirement. All of this equates to milions and milions of dollars. Some may call it pension padding. The list goes on and on. This is one of the main reasons the school district is now in financial trouble and looking to close schools, cut programs for kids and increase fees to parents not to mention possibly hugh property tax increases on everyone. The administator contracts also include much of the same language costing milions. The teacher union refused to open labor agreement to help with the districts financial problems. No mention of administrator contracts being reopened with each administrator to help. To be continued...
informed February 26, 2012 at 04:00 PM
@Dan, much of your concern cannot be addressed for 1 or 2years...by the time teacher negotations are complete late next year. Dan where were you when our finance director, supt. Keith Pain, Sean Doyle president gave those (6%,6%,5%,5%,5%) recommendations to our teachers and signed on the dotted line for a 27% raise over 5 years? Now there is nothing we can do for 1-2 years, teachers were SO smart to NOT open the contract. @Dan, are you concerned with 4200 seats with only 3400 students? Supt. Rains said every year we will be dropping approx. 100 students....so your suggesting to just attack our teachers contract and NOT deal with capicities? You're not wrong explaining all of your so called facts. You're not 100% accurate, let's start... teachers DO NOT receive 100% insur. far from it...ask a teacher, then find a teacher with a family and see what they pay EVERY year? Teachers ALL over the state have many of these perks...not just Summit Hill. They work hard with our children and you left that out...shame on you! Administration cuts are on the table listen to the podcast or go to a meeting.
Dan February 26, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Informed----Wow--- I must have hit a nerve. Yes my concern is about cost, school closings etc. but especially cost since it is one of the direct reasons for the districts problems. These present labor agreements along with administrator contracts are unsustainable without hugh tax increases, school closings. etc. Many people like to deflect issues using the suggestion of personal attacts on teachers and others, but in reality that has nothing to do with the situation the board, taxpayer and parents are facing. My suggestion would be to let the parents and taxpayers form there own opinions, as I have done, as to what the teacher labor agreement language says, including medical/dental cost and coverage, pensions etc. by visiting the school districts website and reviewing the present labor agreement along with other posted information such as administrator pay and perks. I think many will find the posted information to be eye openers, just like they were for me concerning sustainability, especially when comparing them to other private/public sector agreements I have seen. It is unfortunate that the teachers union executive board did not feel it was important enough to open the contract in good faith for the board, taxpayer and parents to see if any cost saving help was available from the teachers, just like many private and public sector unions have over the years when cost, finances, building closings, job losses etc. become issues. To be continued...
informed February 26, 2012 at 05:58 PM
@Dan, AGAIN, I will ask you the same question "Dan where were you when our finance director, supt. Keith Pain, AND Sean Doyle president gave those (6%,6%,5%,5%,5%) recommendations to our teachers union and the school board PRESIDENT signed on the dotted line for a 27% raise over 5 years? This is the last year of a five year contract...where were you five years ago? You must have been a sleep at the wheel because the economy was doing well back then now you care because the economy is in the tank. Do you have a copy of the teachers contract in front of you, because I don't. Are you just guessing and trying to put fear into the community to stir the pot.
informed February 26, 2012 at 06:19 PM
@ ALL Summit Hill TEACHERS look out @Dan is probably a school board member and he will sit on the negotating team....TEACHERS you need a strong team to represent you....or you will lose everything. Teachers I'm sure you're not going to be greedy, but it sounds like your going to also have to protect EVERYTHING your retirement, sick/personal days, dental, vision, health, tution reimbursement EVERYTHING. Build a STRONG team that will stand up and fight for our teachers! Don't forget your salary is still at or a bit below state average. Your raise was an agreement, the union members did not strong arm anyone....so @Dan YOU RELAX! I will fight for teachers.
Actions Speaker Louder Than Words February 26, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Informed- are you 100% sure that the teachers health insurance premiums are not covered 100%? The reason I ask is that I heard the same thing and thought that can't be true. I did confirm with a school staff member (non teacher) that her health insurance premium was paid 100%. I would find it hard to believe that we are paying 100% of insurance premiums for all staff except teachers but who knows it could be true.
Joe Vince (Editor) February 26, 2012 at 07:08 PM
@Actions Speaker Louder Than Words: I've excerpted the part of the teachers' union contract with the district concerning health insurance premiums. You can look at the entire contract here: http://www.summithill.org/Documents/Ctrl_Hyperlink/2008-13_Board-Union_Agreement_uid892010215482.pdf: "For the first year of this contract, the Board shall pay the entire cost of employee group health insurance for each full-time tenured Teacher. ... "For each additional year, the Board will pay up to a 20 percent increase in the cost of employee health insurance premiums. A committee comprised of the Union and Administration shall study cost containment options for the plan. The committee will provide information to the Union and Board. If agreement cannot be reached by the Union and the Board on cost containment options that reduce the premium increase to 20 percent or less, the increase in premiums will be paid by the employees. ... "The Union agrees that all Teachers hired after September 1, 2006, shall pay 10 percent of the annual premium for single health insurance in the first year of employment, 8 percent of the annual premium for single health insurance in the second year of employment, 6 percent of the annual premium for the single health insurance in the third year of employment, and 4 percent of the annual premium for single health insurance in the fourth year of employment. Joe Vince Local Editor, Frankfort
Joe Vince (Editor) February 26, 2012 at 07:20 PM
RE: Insurance Premiums for Administrators The district pays 100 percent of the health insurance premiums for certain administrators, such as superintendent. It depends on the contract. This is a common practice throughout the state. In fact, the Illinois Association of School Boards encourages boards to use this as a way to attract and retain good administrators. Joe Vince Local Editor, Frankfort
Bob February 26, 2012 at 09:41 PM
When is the last time D161 tried to attract good adminstrators that we need to offer free family health care. With the outrageous salaries they get for what they actually do they should be paying minimum 30 - 40% for their coverage like most people. Most of the administrators in D161 have been promoted from within or knew people on the board. The whole thing about having to pay these huge salaries for administrators is a joke. Offer a realistic salary of $80K and if they don't like it see if they can find another job. There are a lot of administrators out of work due to all the budget cutting which is going on in all the districts that could come in and do just as good as job. This is an employer economy not an employee economy. Ask yourself why do all the non-clerical staff in administration make over $100K. Also look at District 210, why does Supt. Wyllie make more than the governor of Illinois? D161 Supt. Rains isn't far behind the governor. Isn't this getting out of hand? That's ok because they will be smiling when they are retired with their six figure pensions and everyone else will have to worry about how they are planning on buying food and paying their property taxes while they are working until 80 if they can keep a job that long. Let's blame all the problems on the teachers because that is the easiest thing to do. The board and the administrators past and present had nothing to do with any of the problems we have today.
Dan February 27, 2012 at 12:05 AM
Joe---I stand corrected----Now people can see for themselves and form their own opinion. My opinion is that health insurance is 100% covered for all tenured teachers and new teachers after 5 years of employment. The only way a teacher is expected to pay any portion is if the insurance premium increases over 20% per year for the life of the contract. Which it has not. Dental coverage is also 100% covered. I hope people also note the other language concerning sick/personal days and pensions. All of the above mentioned and 27% in raises plus cost of living is one of the main reasons the district will continue to struggle with increased fees, school closings, hugh taxpayer increases etc.. The recommendation for administrators health insurance that you refer to is not a surprise considering who is recommending it, but it is only a recommendation and is negotiable. Just like all district teacher labor agreement language. To be continued...
Actions Speaker Louder Than Words February 27, 2012 at 01:30 AM
Joe thanks for that useful information.
Dan February 27, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Informed---Answer to your question. The information was not posted on the districts website. The agreement was ratified and was not shared or made available to the taxpayers and parents until after ratification. A new law went into effect in August of 2009 and again in 2010 requiring certain information be posted including all district labor agreements, administrator pay and perks along with other required information. Check out the attachment http://www.hlerk.com/pdf/Salary%20Compensation.pdf
Bob February 27, 2012 at 02:48 AM
The teachers single insurance is covered but they pay big time for family coverage but I'm sure Dan already knows this but forgot to mention it, while the administrators get free family coverage.
Dan February 27, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Bob--$2000.00 payment a year goes a long way per teacher for family coverage per contract language. Could you clarify what "but they pay big time" means in dollars and cents or percentage. http://www.hlerk.com/pdf/Salary%20Compensation.pdf
LA March 01, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Dan: You hit the nail on the head! Everything you list here, and on a much larger scale, is what's wrong in the entire state. It goes beyond just teacher pension/medical reform, but rather Public Service pension/medical reform. Our tax dollars fund the future of some politicians, state employees and teachers. I'm sorry, but I would much rather see my dollars doing to fund eduction and other programs in the state of illinois that protect the future of our children. Working adults can fund their own retirement and medical coverage. Please people, as you review the issue and closing of our school, be thinking of the larger problem here: the state is broke - we have no money to continue to fund basic and promised programs such as education. EVERYONE has to be willing to give something up: and like the private sector, fringe benefits should be the first thing to go. I am wondering how we can convince the rule makers to recind pensions and medical coverage when they are clearly in it to protect themselves and not the students.
Dan March 01, 2012 at 11:46 PM
LA---All people need to do is check out the districts website and review the posted information made available( labor agreement, administrator pay and perks, etc.). They can then form their own opinion like you and I have concerning what is really causing the districts financial problems along with the unsustainabilty of these labor agreements and administrator contracts without hugh tax increases, more school closings, increased fees for parents etc. To be continued...

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