2018 Crystal Apple Awards

On Wednesday, April 24, 2018, friends colleagues and families met at the Phoenix Opera House in Rushville, IL, to honor those among us who make a difference. Each year, Region 12’s Crystal Apple Awards Banquet pays tribute those individuals who have made a significant contribution to education and the teaching profession. From retirees to administrators, volunteers to mentors, and from teachers to support staff, the people who impact our students and our profession are innumerable. Special thanks to Colin Ash of Horace Mann whose generous donations make this possible.

Thank you to everyone who attended, participated, presented, or received one of the Crystal Apple Awards. Your dedication to education is incredible! For more photos from the event, visit the IEA Region 12 Facebook page.



Western Education Association Awarded an IEA SCORE Grant

Score grant 2

Pictured above from left to right: Dee Emmons-IEA UniServ Director, Roger Harris-Barry Food Pantry Board Member, Curtis Stout-Western Education Association Member, Gayle Hoskins-Western Education Association member and Score Grant writer, Susan Stout-Western Education Association President

Congratulations to Gayle Hoskins, member of the Western Education Association! Gayle was the recipient of an IEA SCORE Grant for her fundraising and collaborative work with the Barry Food Pantry of Barry, IL. We are incredibly proud of our members and all the work they do in the classroom and in their communities! The purpose of SCORE is to encourage early career members and their local associations to collaborate and create opportunities for community service projects or school projects.

Ask how you can be awarded a grant for your community project!
Want to learn more about SCORE Grants? Click Here

IEA Award Nominations Now Available

Asawards a way to honor the hard work of it’s members, IEA will once again present a number of awards at the upcoming IEA Representative Assembly in April. Awards to be presented will include:

Nomination forms are available through the above links or the Region 12 office. Should you have any questions or wish to obtain a nomination form, please feel free to contact the office at (217) 322-2101. For a full list of the IEA awards and nomination forms, be sure to visit the IEA website. The deadline for submitting nominations is January 16, 2018. Be sure to nominate your hard working teachers, students, ESPs, and retirees!

A-C Central School District Negotiations Reach Impasse

From the State Journal Register:

Contract talks have broken down after three months of negotiations between the A-C Central School District and union representatives.

The A-C Central Education Association on Monday declared an impasse after the two sides couldn’t agree on wages for 40 bus drivers, bus monitors, cooks, classroom aides, secretaries and custodians who work for the district’s schools in Ashland and Chandlerville.

The union has been bargaining with the district since August and has been without a contract since late June.

From the Association’s press release:

“We work here. We live here, and we care about the students we serve every day,” A-CEA President Diane Sieving said. “Our members are some of the lowest paid employees in the area. We’re asking for comparable wages to surrounding districts, so we can continue serving the community we love.”

Our research shows the district can meet our requests without raising taxes. The district has a savings account in excess of $2.1 million, which does not take into account additional money the district stands to receive from the recently revamped state school funding formula.


Membership Kickoff 2017

Thursday, August 17, 2017, marked the Kickoff of the 2017-2018 school year in Region 12. The event’s presenters included Rep. Norine Hammond (R-93), Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer (R-100), Tom Tully – IEA Secretary/Treasurer, Nicole Wills – IEA Government Relations, Sherrie Burton – IMRF Services Analyst, Meredith Byers – IEA Early Career and Student Director, Josh Miller – NEA Benefits, Ashley Stair – Illinois Educators Credit Union, and local leaders. Topics covered included legislative issues, school funding, investing, pensions, PERA, and organizing. The day’s events ended with dinner at Los Charros. Thank you to all those who attended and presented!

Hammond2   Davidsmeyer

Tully  Dinner

Presentation Handouts

TRS Presentation, PERA Presentation, Membership Engagement Presentation, One on One Conversations, Crucial Conversations, Story of Self and 3 Questions

Illinois State Pension Update

With pension-faq-1the implementation of the FY18 Illinois State budget comes changes to state pensions. Of the three bills that make up the FY18 budget, SB 42 creates an optional third tier for new hires under many of the state’s pension systems. Included in the change are State Universities Retirement System (SURS), Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) and State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS). The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) is not included.

The goal of the newly created Tier III is to address some of the issues with Tier II. Although an effective date is yet to be determined, Tier III will give Tier II members and all new hires an option:

  1. Elect to be part of Tier II, or
  2. Elect to be in a new hybrid benefit known as Tier III

This new Tier III hybrid benefit will combine features of a defined benefit and a defined contribution plan. Learn more about this newly created pension benefit with the IEA’s Tier III FAQ.

Region 12 – Standing Up for Educators

Elaine 1On June 25, 2017, Region 12’s very own Elaine Ferguson testified before the Illinois House of Representatives regarding educator pensions. Elaine is a retired educator from the Nauvoo-Colusa school district and the current president of the West Central IEA Retired Chapter. The full text of Elaine’s speech is below.

Thank you to Elaine and to the many other advocates all across the Region and state who are standing up and speaking passionately about education and teachers.

Elaine w Reps

L to R: IEA President Cinda Klickna, Representative Norine Hammond – IL 93, Elaine Ferguson, Representative Randy Frese – IL 94

Members of the House, thank you for inviting me to speak today about educator pensions, a topic about which I am passionate. I speak today not only for myself, but for the hundreds of thousands of my colleagues – career educators who have educated and will continue to educate the next generation of citizens in our state. My story can be replicated from one end of Illinois to the other.

Before I speak about pensions though, please let me tell you a little about myself. My name is Elaine Ferguson. I graduated from Western Illinois University in the spring of 1972 with a degree in elementary education. That fall I was offered a job teaching first grade in west-central Illinois along the banks of the Mississippi River in the small rural town of Nauvoo. I accepted the job, fell in love with my students and the little town of Nauvoo, and spent my whole career at the Nauvoo-Colusa Elementary school teaching most grade levels K-6. But the majority of my career was in first grade and kindergarten. I obtained my Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education in 1982, and continued teaching in Nauvoo until I retired.

As I said, the majority of my years were in kindergarten and first grade. It was hard work, and the salary was such that I had to budget carefully. My first salary in 1972 was $7,000, and I retired 33 years later with a Masters Degree and a salary of less than $40,000. My pocketbook was empty many of those years, but my heart was full.

Although my salary was small, the needs of my students were great. Money was tight in the district, and I, like many of my colleagues, easily spent up to $1,000/year on supplies for our own classrooms. We didn’t complain; we just did it knowing that our students deserved our best efforts. We didn’t have a lot of extra spending money, but we had hope. Hope – because of a promise. A promise from the Illinois State Constitution that we would have a pension. A promise in which we believed.

As I said, my exit salary at the end of my career with a Masters Degree was just under $40,000. My TRS pension that first year after my insurance deduction was just a little over $27,000. Today my take home pension is just about $37,000. I do not receive Social Security, and if my husband dies before I do, I will not receive a spousal benefit from Social Security. My TRS is my only income. Discussions of offering teachers in our state a defined contribution/401K style plan are worrisome because educators do not receive Social Security.

While teaching I diligently paid every penny I owed to fund my TRS pension. Every single paycheck had that TRS deduction. Up to 9.4% of my salary was deducted every single time. No one else paid what I owed to TRS; I paid it myself. I could have used that 9.4 %, but I managed to pay my bills without it. After all, I had hope and a promise. My pension, promised to me in the Illinois State Constitution which would allow me to live with dignity in retirement.

Today though, I am worried. I am worried that the talk of pension cuts is demoralizing to our dedicated educators who give their all every day. I retired with the hope and the promise – the promise that my pension would be there. I worry about my colleagues who are still in the classroom. Do they have the hope? Do they believe in the promise? The teachers of today are under constant pressure to do more and more in the classroom. The overwhelming amount of paperwork, the constant testing, the unfunded mandates, the social issues. Teaching is becoming harder and harder every day. Additionally, scapegoating teacher pensions for the state’s fiscal woes is wrong and must stop.

The Illinois Constitution is crystal clear that pensions for current participants shall not be diminished nor impaired. As recently as May of 2015, The Illinois Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the pension cutting bill SB 1 was unconstitutional. My fellow retirees and I were thankful for that result.

I would encourage the legislature and the governor to focus on passing a budget which funds education so students and educators have one less thing about which to worry. Legislation to cut constitutionally protected pensions should not be intertwined with the passing of a budget.

The debt owed to the TRS and the other retirement systems needs to be paid. Cutting pensions of current participants is a fruitless endeavor, and we do not need the Illinois Supreme Court to tell us that once again. Pension funding needs to be automatic. The past needs to be set aside, and we need to look toward the future. The State of Illinois must fund its obligations.

Hundreds of thousands of educators have diligently met the financial obligations required of them to fund their own TRS pension. The state should do the same thing and not attempt to balance the budget on the backs of those who have met every commitment required of them. The Illinois State Constitution is clear. A pension is a promise. Please don’t break that promise.

Thank you.