The union representing the teachers at Hinsdale 86’s two high schools, Central and South, has a $29.5 million reason for getting yet another tax increase referendum on the ballot.
With voter approval of the referendum, expenses incurred under the district’s capital projects (parking lots, boilers, other repairs) will be covered by money borrowed under the referendum, according to Edward Corcoran of Clarendon Hills, a former board member and Finance Committee chairman. The transfer of $29.5 million out of the budget for capital expenses would not only leave funds available for salary and benefit increases for teachers but it also would take pressure off reforming what Corcoran calls “outdated work rules” for teachers: free health care after retirement, accumulated sick leaves and extra preparation periods.
“People don’t understand what is really driving this,” Corcoran told the DuPage Policy Journal, referring to the referendum. “The union thinks two, three, four years ahead of time. The taxpayers are too busy at work to worry about what the union is up to.”
The union, the Hinsdale High School Teachers Association, dumped approximately $30,000 into the Vote Yes for D86 effort to get the $166 million referendum on the ballot in the fall approved. The voters shot it down with 54 percent of the vote. On Monday, the Hinsdale Board approved a $130 million referendum for the April ballot. To boost the new referendum’s chances, the board also voted that night to cut football and other sports activities for next fall. Those activities will be restored if the referendum is approved.
“It’s a scare tactic. There was no need for this,” Corcoran said. “They have money in the reserve fund to cover these activities next year.”
Corcoran's four years on the board ended in May 2017. During that time, he voted against two teacher contracts.
“They weren’t sustainable,” he said.
Besides, Corcoran says, the teachers are already very well compensated. In a recent newsletter, a community group led by Corcoran, Citizens for Clarendon Hills listed Hinsdale teacher salaries, with this statement: “Most teachers are peaking at over $150,000 per year then getting subsidized pensions starting at over $110,000 with free locally funded healthcare, plus early retirement using accumulated sick leave, often in their 50's.”
“The School Board, Teacher's Union and the Superintendent are supposed to protect students, not use them as political pawns," the statement continued. "Students and parents should feel secure about the schools and their future. After all, taxpayers already pay $22,500 per student annually ($20,400 annually per student not including debt per school report card), plenty for every program to exist at a high level. Filling minors and families with anxiety by threatening to cut their sports and activities for Union politics hurt the community.”