Community High School District 155 Board members were supposed to vote on a new teachers contract Tuesday. Weather delayed that vote until Thursday.
All the public knows is that the board will discuss a “professional negotiation agreement,” which district spokeswoman Shannon Podzimek clarified Tuesday morning is a teachers contract.
A request for a copy of that contract, however, was denied.
That is the wrong approach for District 155.
Local property taxpayers are the No. 1 source of funding for local schools, and they deserve a greater voice in decisions on the No. 1 source of school district expenses – teachers’ salaries.
If you live in the district, which includes Crystal Lake, Cary, Fox River Grove and parts of surrounding areas such as Bull Valley and Prairie Grove,
25 percent of your tax bill goes to District 155.
The only larger amount goes to your local grade school district. So it stands to reason that the people paying those taxes would want to know any changes in a contract that will have a large effect on those tax payments before they are approved.
Taxpayers should know this information well before it is up for a vote. They should have the opportunity to tell board members what they think about contract proposals. It is their money that will be spent, after all.
This isn’t a new opinion for us. We have said it and supported legislation to require transparency on these contracts for years.
As of now, it is not legally required.
But district officials should acknowledge that transparency is the best way to operate.
There are questions on where the allegiances of some board members lie. Ron Ludwig, Nicole Pavoris and Jason Blake ran together on a slate supported by the political arm of the District 155 Education Association, the union that represents district employees, including teachers.
Blake and Ludwig said they have family members who are employed by the district, while Pavoris is a U.S. history and economics teacher at Larkin High School in Elgin.
None of that means that they cannot make the right decisions for the district. But it does mean that those decisions will be questioned more, especially in the absence of contract transparency.
If the public is going to be burdened with most of the bill, local property owners should be given a greater voice in school spending. That begins with openness by school districts in negotiations and in all matters that involve public spending.