Heard on the leafy streets of Wilmette: a group of “forward-looking” citizens is forming to advocate more public school spending and higher property taxes for Wilmette District 39. The idea is to run a slate of candidates for the District 39 Board of Education in the April 9, 2013 local election to take over the school board and support more spending as a controlling block of the seven-member board. This is in the context of passage only a year ago of a $6.4 million referendum, as well as plans in the Illinois legislature to move the pension costs encurred by the state (which is virtually insolvent) onto the backs of local school districts – depending on the amount of liability moved to local districts, property taxes could increase exponentially.

Meanwhile the current District 39 Board of Education is negotiating a new contract with the teachers’ union (Wilmette Education Association), which is due to expire in June of 2013. The expiring teachers’ union contract includes raises averaging 5.5 percent annually; although the state of Illinois has controlled pension decisions through its legislators, the local school board plays its part by irresponsibly raising the salaries of public employees far above those of private sector workers. The Family Taxpayers Organization provides a teacher salary data base that compares teacher salaries (including administrators) through 2011.  Read all about the Wilmette District 39 budget and teachers’ contract here. The terms of four members of the Wilmette School Board will be up in the April 2013 election: Kimberly Alcantara, Pamela Davidson, John Flanigan and Cindy Levine each have served four years and would be eligible to run for a second term.

The most effective way Wilmette District 39 taxpayers can influence the state legislative budget policies before additional taxes are distributed to suburban communities (which are considered “deep pockets” for cash-strapped state budgeteers) is to elect conservative state representatives and senators on November 6, 2012. After that, taxpayers will have a chance to choose the most fiscally responsible candidates for school board in April.