AP NEWS

David Giuliani: Comparing superintendents’ pay

May 12, 2019

The other day, we reported that the Kankakee school board increased Superintendent Genevra Walters’ salary to $287,000, from $266,600.

That was newsworthy. People want to know what the top person is getting.

But a reader pointed out that we should compare Walters’ salary to those of the four superintendents in Bradley and Bourbonnais.

So here’s what they made in 2018:

• Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High’s Scott Wakeley, $226,176

• Bradley Elementary’s Scott Goselin, $170,921

• St. George Elementary’s Helen Boehrnsen, $161,264

• Bourbonnais Elementary’s Dan Hollowell, $156,043

Combined, these four superintendents make $714,404 and serve 6,431 students. Walters, by contrast, made her $266,600 in 2018 by serving 5,165 students, about four-fifths of the total of the other four districts.

“How about having just one superintendent for a lot less? Seems like Kankakee has it better. Combine those four schools,” the reader wrote.

In saying this, the reader broached the touchy topic of consolidation. School officials in Bradley and Bourbonnais have told me they’ve looked at the idea before and could find no savings.

Whether that’s true or not, I do not know. But no one should fear the idea of merging districts if it’s in the best interests of taxpayers. Illinois already has a lot of districts — more than 850. By contrast, North Carolina, with 80 percent of Illinois’ population, is made up of 115 districts; many counties just have one.

Would fewer districts in Illinois serve the public better? That’s a worthy debate to have.

SPEAKING DIRECTLY

When government bodies fall short on openness, we, in the media, often point it out.

We should do the same when they go the extra mile. That has been the case with the Kankakee school district with its recent meeting agendas, which mince few words.

In one of its March agendas, an item was listed as “administrative appointments and salary increases” for the next school year. Attached to the online agenda was a listing of each administrator’s pay hike. Last month, the item on Walters was listed as “pay raise.”

Many government bodies’ agendas are more vague. Kudos to the Kankakee district for telling it as it is.

SAFETY FOR BIKERS

A reader told me that grass clippings have been seen on rural roads in western Kankakee County.

That can be slippery for motorcyclists, so the reader said we should warn readers to be careful when mowing near roads.

“It’s a safety issue,” he said. “Bikers want to come home after a ride, but not in an ambulance.”