Teachers Make a Case for More Pay Study Says District 204 at 'Low End' of Salaries

Article excerpt

Indian Prairie school teachers believe they're the best at what they do - and they're told so repeatedly by administrators, students and parents.

They just wish their paychecks gave them a similar impression.

On Tuesday, the teachers began making a pitch for better pay to an Indian Prairie Unit District 204 parents group that can help do something about it.

"We're told we're the best. We are a district known as one that moves other districts forward," said Lance Fuhrer, a social studies teacher at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville. "We believe we deserve what others have."

District 204 is preparing to ask voters to raise their property taxes, in part to ensure the school system can afford to pay teachers a competitive wage.

A parents group designing the tax increase request on Tuesday heard how District 204's salary schedule stacks up against other districts in the area. Parents on the committee will use the information to determine, in part, how much more property tax money the district should seek. The request likely will be put to voters in spring 2001, followed by a request for money to build schools and additions.

Teachers have complained for several years that their salaries lag behind other school systems.

A study released two weeks ago and reviewed with the parents group Tuesday shows that teachers' impressions about pay are true.

The study by Chicago consultant Hay Group compared each position on District 204's teacher pay schedule to six other unit districts. Its evaluation showed the district pays market-average salaries only for starting teachers and for the most experienced teachers. Teachers at other points in their careers generally lag about 8 percent behind the average for comparative districts. Some teachers fall as much as 14 percent below the average.

"We look in terms of at 15 to 20 percent below market it's likely you will begin losing people because of pay," said Brad Hill, a Hay Group consultant. …