Union, Health, and Budget Review

Regarding tonight’s School Board meeting, please attend if you are able, or you can use the button at right to submit comments to the Board.

If you haven’t had a chance to read the documents before tonight’s meeting, one of our BRG members submitted a summary review, pasted below:

September 30th Bullets

First, Tony [Inglese—Finance Director] and whoever helped him has done an outstanding job of creating a transparent, plain language budget document.  Good Job!

Second, I noticed that no Tax Anticipation Warrants were needed for the second year in a row.  Again, Good Job!

Third, I remember a 2 million dollar surplus – again a good job!

Fourth, I’m glad to see you have held the line on overhead costs, with very small increases in administration, buses, etc.  Good job!

This translates to an argument for local control by local community school Boards.  If you have a good Board and a good staff,  good things can happen.  (Of course, we can’t forget engaged citizens who serve as, I have to say it, watchdogs of the district operations and budgets).  I’ve always said everybody needs a watchdog to provide challenge to ideas and debate over direction.

Now to the BEA contract – for the most part the District does have hard working and dedicated teachers.

Now for the Shoe to Drop:

Everyone who isn’t a teacher in Batavia would love to have a work contract with the salaries and benefits in this contract.

  • Generous salaries,
  • perks,
  • every kind of leave you could think of (I counted 9 areas),
  • holidays and long vacations,
  • “CADILLAC” level health, dental, and vision plans,
  • guaranteed retirement at certain ages and with certain incomes for the rest of their lives. 

Nobody I talk to in my neighborhood has a contract close to this.

Social Security has had many years without any raise in the last ten years.  Medicare and supplements are taken right out of their base monthy payment, thereby reducing their paycheck.  They lose ground to inflation and rising costs every year, raises never keep up, let alone exceed inflation every year like in the proposed BEA contract.

Are the teacher paid enough now?  Not to be facetious, but, I see the teachers driving very nice cars and dressing very nice.

Also, for residents in the 10,000 plus homes in Batavia, most are paid based on a measurement of their performance and value added to the company.

I read the proposed BEA contract and then searched for the word “evaluation” and no word “evaluation” was found in the document.  I noticed raises and increases for “actions”, but, saw no raises or rewards for performance.  There is an old saying that “activities” are not a true measure of “accomplishments.”  Is it hard to do an evaluation of a teacher’s accomplishments with objective measurements?

And is the great work environment considered when negotiating the contract?  The teachers get to drive into a safe town, work in safe schools, and have students that mostly come from stable homes to teach.  And I would guess most students have been taught ethics, values, and morality at home verses some other student populations in Illinois.

A couple comments on the budget.  I noticed that percentages either way can be deceiving and require some analysis.  A big percentage hike on small amounts could be insignificant.

I did notice though on page 17:

 

Data processing services [4]  188,850 238,045 829,283  248.4%

 

and I find that footnote:  ” 4 Increasing technology maintenance and student software; reclassification of software supplies to professional services” was a little short on detail for such a large change in expenditures.

Has this been planned and discussed and approved by the Board?

 

And from another BRG member:

Included in the BEA contract is pension-spiking of 6%/year in the final 4 years before retirement. The Teachers’ Retirement Service pays a pension of 75% of the average of the highest 4 years of salaries in the last decade of employment (plus 3% annual compounding COLA increases!). Pension spiking only adds to Illinois’ pension crisis and further burdens taxpayers.

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Teachers Union Contract, Health Insurance, Budget

Tomorrow, Monday 9/30, 5:00pm —a loaded school board meeting: teachers union contract, health insurance contract, district budget. If you plan to attend, NOTE THE TIME is 5:00pm.

Here are the district’s summaries—

Union contract:

The recommended Negotiated Agreement would create a new 4-year contract with the BEA running from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2023. The tentative agreement contains total salary increase of 3.7% in the first year and approximately 2.5% in subsequent years.  On average, individual educators are expected to see an increase of approximately 3.6% each year.

Key highlights include:

  • A new approach to teacher salaries that is tied to new revenues and incentivizes more meaningful professional learning and advancement.
  • The creation of BPSU, an internal university for teachers to improve professional practice based on their needs and the learning needs of their students.
  • A retirement incentive plan tied to pension eligibility.
  • A reorganized contract designed to improve readability and understanding.

 

Health Insurance:

Last April, the Board approved the renewal of various insurance contracts and converted the plan year to coincide with the calendar year instead of the fiscal year. As we conclude the resulting interim six-month plan year, we must once again hold open enrollment for the new plan year that will begin on January 1.

After much review and deliberation, the Insurance and Benefits Committee has unanimously decided it is in the best interests of employees and the Board to take a new approach to medical insurance offerings (Attachment A). Further, the Committee recommends that all employee classes receive the same Board contribution rates, which will require conversions for some exempt staff. A summary of the recommended plan designs follow:

Traditional PPO

The traditional PPO has been revamped to encourage employees to seek more cost-effective care through a higher deductible, now $625. With lower premiums and maximum out-of-pocket costs, most employees will experience an overall annual savings.

Tier

Annual Premium

Board Contribution

Employee Contribution

Employee

$10,394

80%

20%

Employee + spouse

$20,593

80%

20%

Employee + child(ren)

$19,762

80%

20%

Family

$30,576

80%

20%

Savings PPO+HSA

With the same network as the traditional PPO, the savings PPO+HSA plan offers a high deductible plan paired with a health savings account (HSA). With the Board contributing cash toward deductibles and allowing employees to keep any money they save, employees will likely make more cost-effective decisions that balance care and convenience. If the deductible ($3,000) is exceeded on this plan, all additional costs are covered at 100%.

Tier

Annual Premium

Board Contribution + HSA Contribution

Employee Contribution

Employee

$8,341

85% + $1,500

15%

Employee + spouse

$16,526

85% + $3,000

15%

Employee + child(ren)

$15,859

85% + $3,000

15%

Family

$24,537

85% + $3,000

15%

 

To help employees convert to the savings PPO+HSA plan, the Committee recommends the Board offer the following incentives in the first year only:

  • An additional $500 in HSA contributions for all tiers
  • Up-front the total HSA contribution so that funds are immediately available to employees for claims

 

In future years, the Committee recommends that HSA contributions will be paid in equal installments based on the employee’s pay periods.

 https://go.boarddocs.com/il/bps101/Board.nsf/files/BGERK86BEF62/$file/Attachment%20A.pdf

 

Budget:

Attached are two documents that comprise the FY20 Budget:

  1. The Budget Summary, which provides the Board and community with information regarding key budget assumptions and a detailed summary of revenues and expenditures.
  2. The ISBE Budget Form, which is the official budget and must be submitted to the County and State and published on the District’s website.

https://go.boarddocs.com/il/bps101/Board.nsf/files/BGETCE76B4D5/$file/FY20%20Final%20Budget%20Summary.pdf

 

https://go.boarddocs.com/il/bps101/Board.nsf/files/BGETCG76B503/$file/FY20%20ISBE%20Budget%20Form.pdf

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Should Batavia Allow “Pot” Shops?

Short summary of the meeting: Mayor Schielke will veto any ordinance that proposes allowing marijuana dispensaries in Batavia, necessitating 10 aldermen (out of 14) to override him. Most aldermen seem to favor pot shops. A couple of aldermen want to wait and see what the consequences are for St. Charles and other towns before moving on it. At least one doesn’t want to wait and wants to get in line for a dispensary. Aldermen sent the issue back to legal counsel to better define terms for more discussion at a later date.

On Tuesday nights’s 7pm City Council Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting agenda is a discussion whether or not to allow marijuana dealers to establish store fronts in Batavia.

Starting Jan. 1, 2020, recreational marijuana will be legal in Illinois. Anyone 21 and older will be able to legally smoke pot. But cities can choose whether or not to allow dealers to sell the drug in their communities.

Here’s the agenda item with more details: https://www.cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/14108?fileID=10472

If you cannot attend the meeting, you can contact the City Council and Mayor through the button at right.

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School District Tentative 2020 Budget on Display

Tentative Budget for 2020 is on display in the July 23, 2019 Board documents.
The state form is here.
Schedule from website:
  • July 23, 2019 – Discuss and place a tentative budget on public display.
  • August 20, 2019 – Hold a public hearing on the budget and consider any significant revisions.
  • September 24, 2019 – Adopt the final budget.
Video of meeting where they discuss the budget (should be cued to start of budget discussion about 15 min in): https://youtu.be/kO_9Uk44lnE?t=927

They plan for the maximum property tax increase as usual (Consumer Price Index, 1.9% projected this year), while enrollment is declining. Health insurance benefit costs are out of control (with $250 deductibles, of course they are; hopefully ongoing contract negotiations will fix that).

If you cannot attend the public hearing, there is a Contact button for the School Board at right.
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Batavia Taxes Highest in Tri-Cities

Property tax bills are out. Once again, Batavia’s property taxes are higher than both Geneva and St. Charles. To see where we rank in Kane County, and for a link to view your taxes, please see the article on Kane County Connects.

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Taxpayer-Funded Health Insurance

The Batavia School District will vote on a health insurance contract tonight (4/23/19). This represents a large cost to taxpayers, one that keeps going up every year, even as enrollment is declining. Details are here. Sheet 1 has a summary of portions paid by taxpayers and employees. The 2nd sheet has the finer details.

In short, taxpayers pay 80-100% of the premiums for Cadillac health insurance plans that have deductibles as low as $250 in their “Standard” plan, with a $650 Out-of-Pocket maximum. $1000 is considered a “high” deductible. For one Standard Family Plan, the premium cost amounts to $26,160 paid for by taxpayers, $6540 by employee annually.

How does that compare to your insurance? Feel free to write the school board today, or attend the meeting tonight, and ask them to bring their health insurance plans into the real world with plans comparable to the private sector.

 

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Election Day

Election Day is tomorrow, April 2. For those who haven’t early voted, please get out and vote. Local government elections determine what local services you receive and at what cost— through your property taxes—with the School Board taking over 2/3 of your property taxes:

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IMPORTANT: When the ballot says, “Vote for 2 [or 3]”, it really means, “Vote for UP TO 2 [or 3]” or, as the Waubonsee election section states, “Vote for not more than….” Vote only for the candidates you think will represent you as you want to be represented. Voting for additional candidates simply to meet a quota may help them win and your desired candidate(s) lose.

In order to help you make informed decisions, below is some information on candidates:

Continue reading

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Shodeen, the Final Battle

Update: The Council would not postpone the vote and passed all measures unanimously. Final vote was taken at the City Council meeting.

Tuesday night, 2/26/19, 7pm, the City Council COW will take up the matter of the soil contamination on the 1 N. Washington site (agenda item here). This is the last “off-ramp” for the City of Batavia to cut ties with Shodeen WITH NO PENALTY.  In the Redevelopment Agreement (RDA), if cost of soil remediation exceeds $350,000 (which it does), and if the City and Shodeen cannot reach an agreement on course of action, the contract is terminated.

The last time the project came before the City Council, it ended in a 7-7 tie vote, with Mayor Schielke casting the deciding vote in favor of going forward. Then the contamination was revealed. Here’s one last chance to end this project and open up the area to new ideas for development.

Call your Alderman, send emails, come to the meeting Tuesday night and let your voice be heard one more time.

Aldermen who voted last time in favor of the project (* denotes seat is in a contested election):  O’Brien, Wolff*, Chanzit, Stark*, Atac*, McFadden, Brown.

Aldermen who voted against: Salvati, Callahan, Meitzler, Malay*, Uher, Cerone, Russotto

Perhaps you might urge the City Council to postpone their vote until after the April 2 election, when the new aldermen are seated, to better reflect the will of the people.  Shodeen is, after all, only planning to begin demolition and excavation in April 2020.

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“You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.”

If you live in one of the unincorporated pockets of Batavia, the City is coming after you. For some, it could happen quickly; for others, it may take a while longer— but you will be annexed into the City of Batavia. The goal of the City is to get as many properties as it can by the 2020 census to increase their head count for government funding and property taxes.

If you don’t like it, there’s not much you can do; the law apparently gives them the right to force your compliance in certain circumstances. The issue of annexing unincorporated islands came up for discussion at the COW meeting on Jan. 8. (Agenda item is here. Video of the discussion is here on BATV, starting around 2 min.)

If you prefer your independence (and well and septic and lower taxes), you may be able to strike a deal regarding the terms of your annexation (some of it depends on whether or not you have some sort of utility or annexation agreement in place). Whatever you do, if at all possible, don’t agree to switch to the City’s electricity, or you’ll be stuck like the rest of us with crazy high electric bills, for the next 15+ years (see our page on Prairie State).  And because of the new wastewater treatment plant that’s being built, don’t be surprised if your initial water and sewer rates increase over the next several years. If you get concessions, be sure you understand the terms and get it in writing.

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