Analysis, Budget, Commentary, Local, Park Forest, Politics, Schools

SD 163: Home of the Richest Superintendent in Illinois

Joyce Carmine, Caletha White, School District 163, Richest Superintendent
Interim Superintendent Dr. Joyce Carmine, left, and Superintendent Designate Dr. Caletha White together cost SD 163 $601,697 between salaries and Dr. Carmine’s pension. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- If we go strictly on how much Dr. Joyce Carmine takes home annually from Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163, then we must conclude she is the richest superintendent in Illinois. Dr. Carmine’s salary, approved in January, is $120,000. To keep her pension, however, she can only work 100 days, so her per diem is $1,200. She began drawing a “big pension, just under $300,000 dollars in 2018,” according to Fox 32 News, which means “between her pension and new/old job, Carmine will take home $419,235.”

In 2017, Open The Books ranked Dr. Carmine the highest-paid superintendent in the state at $398,229.81. This abnormally elevated salary helped boost her pension. Her new/old combined salary now puts that to shame.

Why do we allow this situation to persist?

Monday evening, November 19, 2018, Fox 32 Chicago investigative reporter Dane Placko was in attendance at the district’s board meeting. The word he chose to describe Dr. Carmine’s salary is “supersized,” and it’s one Park Foresters should heed. Living in one of the highest-taxed school districts in Illinois, the interim superintendent draws a lopsided salary, and, we must ask, how does this district benefit from this expenditure?

Dane Placko, Fox 32 Chicago, School District 163
Fox 32 Chicago investigative reporter Dane Placko at Monday’s meeting of School District 163’s Board of Education. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

Add to that, School District 163 has a second superintendent, Dr. Caletha White, who serves as superintendent designate at a salary of $182,462.

Let’s take a look at some other school districts.

The Illinois State Board of Education shows a total enrollment of 1,838 students in six schools in SD 163 in 2018, with two superintendents. Nearby Matteson School District 162, which serves part of Park Forest, has an enrollment of 2,729 students, and one superintendent, Dr. Blondean Davis, earning a salary of $265,000 in 2017, according to Open The Books. Crete-Monee School District 201-U, also serving part of Park Forest with an enrollment of 4,893 students, has one superintendent, earning a salary of $195,876.92 in 2017, according to Open The Books.

Let’s branch out a bit. For Joliet PSD 86, one of the largest school districts in the state of Illinois, with an enrollment of 11,444 students and one superintendent, Cheryl D. Woods-Clendening earned a salary of $207,066.00 in 2017. Cicero School District 99, serving 11,874 students, also has one superintendent, Rodolfo Hernandez, earning $251,901.99 in 2017, according to Open The Books.

For comparative purposes, the President of the United States gets paid $400,000 per year.

Shall we go on?

camera operator, Fox 32 Chicago, School District 163
A camera operator from Fox 32 Chicago focused on Dr. Carmine Monday as she walked away from the dais prior to the meeting. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

Back to Dr. Carmine and her inflated salary/pension situation, this is from Dane Placko’s report at Fox 32 Chicago:

“The pension is designed to give [employees] some income after they’re retired. It wasn’t designed to give people double or triple salaries,” said retired state lawmaker Karen May.

Former Democratic lawmaker Karen May helped pass a bill in 2011 banning former state employees drawing a pension from returning to the same job on a full-time contract, which is why Carmine’s contract only allows her to work 100 days.

May says that loophole needs to be closed.

“I think this particular bill was trying to stop—what’s especially egregious is that people would go back to the same school district and that is totally, totally double dipping,” May said.

During Monday’s meeting after a presentation where a photograph was shown of students doing a news report before a green screen, Dr. Carmine singled out Fox 32 and said it “would be nice” if Fox was to send a reporter to help teach the students about the news business. She then clarified that Fox should send “an investigative reporter.”

Mr. Placko did not appear to be intimidated.

Here’s the report that ran on Fox 32:

Sources: Open The Books, Illinois Report Card

Erratum: An earlier version of this article had Interim Superintendent Joyce Carmine’s last name spelled incorrectly in the second paragraph of the story. We regret the error.