Forbes: 30,000 Six-Figure Illinois Educators Cost Taxpayers $3.7 Billion 85_educators_cost_taxpayers_millions

October 17, 2018 05:30 PM


Adam Andrzejewski, Contributor
We mapped the exclusive club of 30,000 Illinois educators with either salaries or pension payouts greater than $100,000 costing taxpayers $3.7 billion annually.
Illinois teachers are starting their three-month summer break. But when it comes to teacher salaries, there’s no break for taxpayers. Last week, the Illinois legislature passed a new mandate requiring base pay of $40,000 for Illinois educators. (Cue the teacher’s union cheering.)
Yet, lawmakers refuse to cap the payouts for the most highly compensated public employees who burden the system with unsustainable salary and pension costs. The payouts are so large, by our calculation, the equivalent of $1 out of every $3 in individual income tax is paid out to retired teachers.
For 30,000 Illinois educators, the new "minimum wage" is $100,000 . Nearly 20,000 of these employees are currently working, while the other 11,766 are retired – pulling down six-figure pensions.
Thanks to an interactive tool we’ve built at our government transparency web site,, every taxpayer in Illinois and across the country can search the $100,000 Club at the teachers' retirement system by zip code. Want to see who in your backyard makes a $150,000 salary for teaching drivers ed or PE classes? What about the retired art teacher with a $100,000 lifetime pension annuity?
It’s a game the whole taxpaying family can play! Use it and be amazed – and also help out reform-minded legislators and Gov. Bruce Rauner’s team identify waste. Click here to access the map below.
Using our interactive mapping tool, quickly review (by zip code) the 30,000 Illinois educators who make more than $100,000 – either from a salary or public pension. Just zoom in, click a pin (zip code) and scroll down to see the results rendered in the chart beneath the map.
Here’s how it breaks down in just three of 850 school districts:
  • In Township HSD 214 in Arlington Heights, 617 working educators made $100,000 or more in addition to 578 retirees receiving six-figure annual pension payouts.
  • In Palatine Township HS 211, there were 594 educators pulling down six-figure salaries and 533 retirees receiving six-figure lifetime pensions. Read the superintendent’s response here.
  • In Naperville CSD 203, there were 374 educators making $100,000 or more while another 278 retirees received six-figure pension payouts.
In Illinois, some of the worst performing school districts award the largest salaries – and it hasn’t helped student scores. In many cases, administrators making $300,000 or even $400,000 have districts where a majority of their students come from families receiving public aid, living in substitute care, or are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.
Consider these examples:
  • Troy Paraday made $407,145 as the superintendent of Calumet CSD 155 even though enrollment is just 1,200 students. Meanwhile, the kids are struggling. Nearly 70 percent of are from low-income families and just 16 percent are considered ready for the next level. Paraday’s paycheck is up from the $384,138 last year.
  • Joyce Carmine, former superintendent of Park Forest SD 163, retired on a first-year pension of $290,526 (2017). Last year, Carmine earned the #1 salary in the entire system with a massive salary increase from $81,382 (2000) to $398,229 (2016). She earned this largess even though less than one out of four students in her district were considered ready for the next level and 88 percent of students were considered low-income.
  • Gregory Jackson received $340,405 (up from $325,208 last year) as the superintendent of Ford Heights SD 169. Why is Jackson making a massive salary when just one in five children in his district passed the statewide PARCC exam? Further, there are just 434 students in the district, and 97 percent are from low-income homes.
  • Arthur Culver made $265,000 as the superintendent of East St. Louis SD 189, even though just six percent of students are considered ready for the next level and 96 percent of students are from low-income homes.
Review the Top 500 Illinois teacher and administrator salaries in 2017, click here.
The legal corruption is so bad even union bosses are muscled into the teacher’s pension system. Unions are private-sector organizations but, in Illinois, the unions received a special legislative carve out making them members of the government pension system.
For example, Reginald Weaver was the President of the National Education Association (NEA) in Washington, D.C. – the de facto national teacher’s union. Today, Weaver’s Illinois teacher’s pension is $24,869 per month, or $298,437 annually. During his working career, Weaver’s total investment into his pension was only $287,107. Now and every year, Weaver pulls out more than he ever paid into the system.
In 2014, a pair of union lobbyists substitute taught for one day in the public schools, and then we found them collecting over $1 million of lifetime public ‘teacher’ pension payouts despite a state law expressly designed to stop them.
We forecast that Illinois taxpayers will be on the hook for more than 20,000 six-figure educator pensions by 2020. The number of retirees receiving $100,000 pension payouts increased by 60 percent in just the past two years – from 7,333 in 2015 to 11,766 in 2017.
Here are more of our findings:
  • Six retired educators received more than $300,000 in annual pension payouts last year including Lawrence Wyllie from Lincoln Way CHSD 210 ($331,086); Henry Bangser from New Trier Township HSD 203 ($321,834); Gary Catalani from Community Unit SD 200 ($320,403); Laura Murray from Homewood-Flossmoor CHSD 233 ($315,221); Mary Curley from Hinsdale CCSD 181 ($306,151); and Larry Fleming from Lincolnshire-Prairie View 103 ($300,813).
  • The top five school districts conferring six-figure pensions were Township HSD 214 (578); Palatine Township HSD 211 (533); Glenbard Township HSD 87 (279); Naperville CUSD 203 (278); and Maine Township HSD 207 (257).
  • Northern Illinois school districts are driving the majority of $100,000 pensions. In fact, 9,699 six-figure pensions for nearly $1.2 billion in annual payouts were conferred by districts in the Chicago metropolitan area. Yet, income taxpayers across the entire state guarantee these retirement annuities. Consider the following examples.
We’re not against outstanding educators being fairly compensated, but the costs to taxpayers are so obviously unsustainable.
Unfortunately, rather than bringing reform to the most out-of-control and corrupted parts of the Illinois education pay-and-pension systems, the state legislature passed a bill to pay educators more in their first years of teaching.
Legislators should worry more about highly compensated educators at the top and the taxpayers who are funding their payouts.
Search all $100,000 salaries and pensions in the Illinois Teachers' Retirement System on our interactive mapping platform here.
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