AURORA, Ill. – The following news item appeared in the Chicago Tribune on Oct. 31, 2016:
“Less than a quarter of West Aurora School District 129 students are considered proficient in English language arts and math, based on their scores on last spring’s PARCC assessment exam, according to state data made public Monday.
“On the exam as a whole, 23.1 percent of West Aurora students are considered proficient. Statewide, 33.4 percent of students are judged to have met that mark.
“In English, 25.2 percent of district students are considered proficient, while in math 20.9 percent of students met that mark.
“The highest proportion of students considered proficient across all grades and subjects came in seventh grade in English language arts, where 31.2 percent of students tested are considered proficient. The lowest was among high school students in math, where 9.7 percent of students were considered proficient.
“West Aurora officials did not provide comment on the district’s performance.”
That news did not reflect well on the district’s educators. And as it turns out, those educators made pretty good money in the 2015-16 school year, when the exam mentioned in the news story was taken.
The district’s superintendent, Dr. Jeff Craig, made a base salary of $202,825, plus benefits.
The school district also made a pension contribution of $27,326 on the superintendent’s behalf.
That brings his total compensation for the fiscal year to $272,167 – $69,342 more than his base salary.
A total of 886 teachers were paid a combined base salary of $57,723,990, which averages out to $65,151 per teacher.
The teachers also received $6,987,930 in health and other benefits (for an average of $7,887 per teacher), and the district made $7,185,151 in retirement contributions on their behalf (for an average of $8,109).
That brings the average compensation for teachers in 2015-16 to at least $81,147 – $15,996 more than the average base salary.
The results of one standardized test does not automatically make the West Aurora district a failing institution. But the low scores, and the salary figures outlined above, are enough to make one wonder if taxpayers are getting their money’s worth.