The Northwest Herald Editorial Board offers this week’s thumbs up and thumbs down:
Thumbs up: To the District 155 School Board for unanimously voting to decline a binding arbitration offer from its teachers union. We don’t want the Crystal Lake-based district’s teachers to strike, but the school board could not in good faith put the fate of a new contract in the hands of an independent arbitrator who is not accountable to taxpayers. District 155 taxpayers already pay too much in property taxes. The average salary of a District 155 teacher is $94,866. The median household income in Crystal Lake is $77,500. Something has to give, and it can’t give against already stretched taxpayers.
Thumbs down: To a teacher salary structure that still has to financially incentivize retirements with large gifts of taxpayer money for teachers who already receive pensions much larger than most people receive. Because teachers are collectively given raises most years regardless of merit, they get much more expensive toward the end of their careers, which puts budget constraints on school districts. Retirement incentives were abused far more egregiously in years past, but Prairie Grove School District 46 has decided to offer packages of up to $15,000 to retiring teachers because they will save money on lower salaries for younger teachers. While good, experienced teachers are to be valued, there has to be a better way to handle this issue. Unfortunately, because of the way teacher contracts are handled, it’s difficult to imagine one.
Thumbs up: To the Crystal Lake South volleyball team for making it back to the state finals this weekend after a 17-year hiatus. The Gators continue a strong tradition of successful local volleyball teams as the area has produced some of the best public school volleyball teams in the state. Crystal Lake South previously made five state finals appearances between 1991 and 1996.
Thumbs down: To Jon Stewart for degrading Chicago-style, deep-dish pizza. We know everybody in New York thinks the world revolves around them. However, wasn’t stealing the country’s tallest-building designation from Chicago enough? Stewart and New York can keep their egos and thin-crust pizza. We suppose Stewart puts ketchup on his hot dogs, too.