Several components determine compensation in Hinsdale District 86

Officials of Hinsdale High School District 86 and the district teachers are in the midst of heated contract negotiations. But one thing they both agree is understanding how teacher salaries are calculated is not easy.

“This is complex stuff,” said Michael Palmquist, spokesman for the Hinsdale High School Teachers Association, the union that represents 377 certified staff members. The vast majority are teachers, but the association also represents librarians, guidance counselors and other professionals.

The average base salary for full-time teaching positions in District 86 the past school year was $86,500, district officials report.

Palmquist said that number sounds reasonable.

“It’s in line with a lot of the data out there,” Palmquist said.

However, when stipends are added, District 86 administrators report the average annual compensation last year rose to about $111,000, based on the equivalent of 373 full-time positions.

The $111,000 sounds high, Palmquist said, and he questioned who and what it includes.

It includes all the stipends paid to the school staff last school year, Director of Human Resources Domenico Maniscalco said. Stipends are paid for a variety of extra work, including sponsoring a student club, coaching sports and being the chairman of an academic department.

The amount of the stipend depends on the task and the experience of the person doing it. It varies widely, “from a few hundred dollars to a substantial amount if you have been the head football coach for a number of years,” Palmquist said.

The $111,000 average also includes stipends or bonuses teachers receive for having advanced degrees. A teacher with a master’s degree receives $1,000 on top of his salary every year. If the teacher has two master’s degrees the bonus is $2,000 a year. If the latter teacher completes the process to be Nationally Board Certified, too, his or her annual bonus would be $3,000.

District officials report about 345 of the nearly 400 teachers who worked in the district last year had master’s degrees.

The district’s average also includes the salary bump paid to teachers nearing retirement. Teachers who notify the district of their retirement date receive a 6 percent raise in each of the last four years they work, as a retirement incentive. This is in addition to the annual increase they would get if they were not retiring.

Currently, more than 40 teachers in District 86 are within four years of retiring and thus receiving the 6 percent hikes, Maniscalco said.

Palmquist said discussing the average teacher salary is a “red herring.”

What’s relevant, he said, is the contract the teachers’ association has proposed would raise the total compensation paid to certified staff by 1 percent next year.

And the district can afford it, Palmquist said, because the property taxes the district is receiving for the upcoming school year are from the 2012 levy, which raised property taxes by 1.7 percent.

“The district is taking in more money than it would pay out in salaries,” Palmquist said.

The district’s proposal as of July 28 was based on an employee’s performance evaluation and his or her current salary. Teachers would receive a raise of either 75 percent of the 1.7 percent Consumer Price Index or half the CPI, plus a bonus of between $500 and $1,250, depending on their current salary and whether they were evaluated as proficient or excellent.

Based on that proposal, the district’s cost for all employees’ salaries, not just teachers, would increase about 1.55 percent from an estimated $52,480,055 last school year to $53,293,740 in the new school year.

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