Teacher raises trail those of principals, administrators

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Since the Reform Board took control of the schools three years ago, central office employs fewer people. But those who remain make more money.

The 1998-99 budget provides for 904 central office staffers at an average salary of $55,966—37 percent higher than four years ago, when central office employed 1,200 workers at an average salary of $40,785. The increase is due in part to higher salaries for specific jobs and in part to a reduction in the lowest paying jobs.

Salaries for the 100 highest-paid central office administrators rose an average 23 percent since fiscal 1995. Some top posts grew even more. The directors of budget ($102,485) and communications ($95,790) each earn 30 percent more than their predecessors did four years ago.

However, Chief Executive Officer Paul Vallas continues to make less than Supt. Argie Johnson did—$150,000, compared to $175,000. At $113,000, Chief Financial Officer Ken Gotsch gets $4,000 less than his predecessor.

Principal salaries have grown up to 31 percent, depending on years of experience and the size of a school’s faculty. Meanwhile, teacher salaries have risen a total of 13 percent over the last four years.

Principals got the biggest boost, says David Peterson of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, to make up for previous years when they got no raises. “Teachers were making more than principals.”

Compensation for educators and other school employees accounts for the bulk—58 percent—of the school system’s budget.

Since the Reform Board was installed, he adds, the scope and demands of a principal’s job have expanded.

For the first time, no outside agency is analyzing the board’s budget. In 1995, the Legislature suspended oversight by the Chicago School Finance Authority. Since then, the Civic Federation, the Chicago Urban League, the Chicago Panel on School Policy and the Cross City Campaign for Urban School Reform have all dropped their scrutiny.

Here are some highlights of this year’s $3.4 billion budget:

PROPERTY TAXES It includes a $29 million property tax increase, well below the 3.3 percent adjustment allowed by tax caps. The net effect on the owner of a home valued at $100,000 is an additional $12. Property taxes make up 47 percent of the budget.

PRESCHOOL PROGRAMS An additional 30 preschool classrooms are planned, bringing the total to 747. Another 52 schools will get an after-school Lighthouse program, which includes serving students a third meal.

PARENT TUTORS, TEEN MOTHERS Parents as Teachers First, which hires parents to provide home instruction to toddlers, will add 250 tutors. The number of hospitals and high schools participating in Cradle to Classroom, a program for teen moms, will increase as well.

TRANSPORTATION, UTILITIES A new busing policy for magnet schools aims to reduce transportation costs by up to $10 million. The board is negotiating with utility companies to get a break of 15 percent to 20 percent on its rates.

CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT The board plans to sell more bonds to raise $500 million for capital projects, including $127 million for additions and new schools. CPS also anticipates $50 million in funding from the state school construction program.

STATE FUNDING Revenue from the state is up nearly 16 percent, with an extra $115 million coming from a new funding law passed in December.

FEDERAL FUNDS Federal funds make up 14 percent of Chicago’s budget, more than most districts due to the city’s concentration of poverty. CPS Washington lobbyist Charles Pizer says still more money is being sought.

Some prospects include: Department of Defense for junior ROTC; Department of Health and Human Services for Healthy Kids, Healthy Minds program; Department of Justice for at-risk youth programs; and Department of Agriculture for after-school meals. Changes in welfare laws have increased schools’ responsibility to students, making the Department of Housing and Urban Development another possible funding source.