School district to present reorganization plan at May 22 meeting, plans to reduce tax rate by 58 cents
Editor’s note: Rockford Public School District 205 announced May 18 in two news releases that it plans to present its reorganization plan at the May 22 Rockford Board of Education meeting and that it plans to lower its tax rate by 58 cents. Following are the two press releases issued by the district regarding both issues.
RPS 205 completes principal and administrative salary study; makes recommendations for improvement
The Rockford Public School District leadership team plans to present a salary comparison study and resulting recommendations for reorganization and cost savings to the school board at its meeting at 7 p.m., May 22.
Last fall, the district hired Fox, Lawson, and Associates, a Minnesota firm specializing in human resource compensation consulting for government organizations, to perform the market analysis. The study evaluated 11 school districts, two organizations and two data sources from the private sector. Comparison school districts included Belvidere, East St. Louis, East Aurora, Elgin, Freeport, Harlem, Lincolnshire-Prairie View, Peoria and Valley View.
“We have spent many hours over the past several months evaluating our existing organizational structure and working hard to attract top leadership talent to our school system,” said Interim Superintendent Dr. Robert Willis. “It became readily apparent, as we attempted to recruit for various administrative positions, that we are not as efficiently structured as we could be, nor are we able to offer a competitive salary in comparison to similar-sized districts, government organizations and even private companies. Perhaps even more importantly, the analysis showed that our pay scale was not helping motivate our best teachers to move upward into leadership positions.”
Last fall, the district commissioned the salary study. Its findings of RPS 205 principal and assistant principal salaries revealed that 14 out of 35 RPS 205 elementary school principals make less than the top RPS 205 teacher salary of $76,670, and none of the 27 assistant principals in the district makes a salary at the top of the teacher scale of $76,670. All salary figures exclude contributions to the Teachers Retirement System (TRS).
“From the data, we concluded all of our district’s principals, assistant principals, and administrators are paid significantly below market level,” explained Assistant Superintendent Dr. Ehren Jarrett. “We recommend to the board that we address the issue as soon as possible so we can continue to effectively recruit high-quality leaders and encourage our existing teachers and administrators to step up and help advance our district.
“What the study also told us is that we need to get leaner and reorganize,” Jarrett continued. “We propose consolidating and streamlining our staff so that the net result is the elimination of 11 positions in the central office and across the district. The total cost savings to the district is projected to be $283,903 for our fiscal year 2013 budget.”
The district will recommend to the school board that it:
• Adjust principal and administrative salaries to make them competitive with market rates;
• Cut the size of the central office;
• Consolidate and streamline the organizational chart, resulting in the net elimination of 11 positions (projected FY13 net savings of $283,903);
• Perform an external market compensation analysis every three years
• Determine individual compensation by slotting jobs into ranges (minimum, midpoint, maximum); and
• Review classification of jobs to ensure proper leveling and compensation between supervisors and managers.
“Our administrators aren’t being adequately compensated for their increased level of responsibility, leadership and skills,” Jarrett continued. “We want to take the information we now have to make our district leaner and more efficient with competitive salaries to attract and retain the best talent.”
The school board will need to approve the salary recommendations before they go into effect.
RPS 205 leadership team recommends school board give 58-cent tax levy back to taxpayers
The Rockford Public School District leadership team plans to recommend to the Rockford School Board that it vote to give taxpayers back the 58-cent tax levy it has assessed since 2006 when the “Kids Win” community-led campaign resulted in a positive vote of overwhelming support.
“We are no longer required by state law to ask voters to let us continue collecting the 58-cent tax levy,” said Interim Superintendent Dr. Robert Willis. “If we wanted to, we could continue collecting it without their consent. But we feel a moral obligation to give that money back to the voters. We realize citizens need property tax relief, our community needs economic growth, and pushing our overall tax rate down will help those efforts.”
In 2006, when the community and school board were well on their way toward a successful public campaign to get the 58-cent tax levy passed, the Illinois state legislature voted to give Illinois school districts more freedom to control the individual tax levies that make up their total tax rates. (Public Act 94-0976, referred to as PTELL went into effect June 30, 2006.). That meant the “Kids Win” campaign committee’s promise to go back to voters in five years to again approve or deny the levy was no longer legally required.
Eliminating the 58-cent tax levy means an average Rockford homeowner with a home valued at $100,000 will see a savings of 58 cents per $100 of assessed home value in their 2013 tax bill. For a homeowner with a Rockford home valued at $150,000, the savings would be approximately $132.
“Once we voluntarily give the money back, it is still possible local residents will see a tax increase at some point in the future,” Willis continued. “It could happen due to inflation and increases resulting from any rise in our Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV). But we do not expect to see real increases in EAV for at least three more years.”
If the board approves the administration’s recommendation, the district expects to lose $7 million in revenue in FY2013 and nearly $14 million in 2014.
“We continue to budget conservatively, our reserves are healthy and growing, and we expect revenues to gradually rise based on inflation,” Willis said. “We feel this is the right decision for our district, our taxpayers and our community.”
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Ehren Jarrett added: “We are encouraged that, despite a decrease in revenue, our organizational efficiency, our skilled administrators and our entire staff will allow us to give more to voters than we ever have before. We are giving them Readiness Rocks — College & Career Readiness, Preschool for All, Seven Periods to Success, 21st Century Learning Environments, and College for All — five big initiatives that will change the landscape of our schools and our community in the months and years to come.”
Posted May 18, 2012
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