Education

D161 raises administrator salaries

At the June 10 meeting, the Flossmoor District 161 Board of Education voted to increase the salaries of district administrators. 

Raises for administrators will range from 5% to 7%. Non-administrative employees who are not part of the certified and classified staff bargaining unit will receive an 8% salary increase for the 2024-25 school year.

Agnes Tropp, a frequent commenter at District 161 board meetings, voiced her dissent over increasing the salaries of the top district administrators. 

“Flossmoor, as long as I lived (here), had low reading scores, low math scores, truancy issues, behavior issues, refused to deal with parent issues, and then you’re trying to ask for compensation,” Tropp said. “Three of your salaries are over a million dollars, and I don’t even know how many of you live in Flossmoor, so all of that money is just walking out the door.”

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While their home addresses are not publicly available, the highest-paid officials in District 161 are the superintendent, the associate superintendent, and the director of learning and instruction. The combined total of the three salaries is about $600,000, not $1 million, as Tropp stated.

Superintendent Dana Smith’s salary will increase 5% from $222,528 in the 2023-24 school year to $233,655 in the 2024-25 school year. 

Associate Superintendent Frances LaBella’s salary will increase by 6% as part of a retirement contract. Her salary will be $203,423 for the 2024-25 school year. It was $191,908 in 2023-24. 

Amabel Crawford, the director of learning and instruction, will also receive a 5% raise to $162,842 in 2024-25, an increase from $155,088 for the most recent school year.

According to the superintendent’s office, District 161 last increased administrators’ salaries by 4.29% on May 8, 2023. 

Tropp said, “Our superintendent is getting more money than North Shore school’s [superintendents]. That also goes for the assistant superintendent, and that also goes for the third one in line.”

According to the most recent data from the Illinois State Board of Education, District 161 Superintendent Dana Smith’s 2022-23 school year salary was $213,374, about $12,000 less than the newly hired first-year superintendent in Winnetka. Glencoe, Glenview, Kenilworth, and Wilmette’s superintendents earned between $240,000 and $275,000. 

Most school administrators are compensated based on a variety of factors. Experience, certifications, and the cost of living in the district’s general area are a few of these. Flossmoor is considerably different from most North Shore villages when comparing property values and tax revenue. 

The salary of Scott McAlister, the superintendent of Homewood District 153, was $189,281 in 2022-23. Scott Wakeley, superintendent of Homewood-Flossmoor High School District 233, was paid $249,100 for the same year.

From a list of 867 district superintendents in Illinois, in the 2022-23 school year, Smith made less than 167 and more than 699. Due to the higher cost of living and demand for quality administrators, most of the highest-paid administrators in the state work in the greater Chicago area.

The salaries of the associate superintendent and the director of learning and instruction in District 161 align with those of other area administrators with similar experience and job titles. The district’s increases for administrators and non-union employees are comparable to the salary increases outlined in the collective bargaining agreement the board approved in May.

The Illinois School Report Card website lists all five schools in the district as “commendable” for FY2023. It explains that schools earn this designation when they have “no underperforming student groups, a graduation rate greater than 67%, and their performance is not in the top 10% of schools statewide.“ 

In the most recent round of testing, Flossmoor students scored higher than the state average in English/language arts with 37.8% proficiency compared to the average of all students in the state at 34.6%. Math scores were slightly below the state average, with 24.2% proficiency in Flossmoor schools compared to 26.9% across Illinois. In science, district students had 53.4% proficiency exceeding the state average by 1.5% points. 

While the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a dip in proficiency across the state, Flossmoor and the rest of the state have begun to bounce back.

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