Tim Baldermann's Union School District 81 a costly underperformer
Tim Baldermann has a lot to show for his years of public service; the taxpayers, funding his pension and salary, don't.
His district is moving in a more impoverished direction. The number of students dropped from 113 in 2016 to 104 in 2017. Only 32 percent passed the statewide competency exam, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, which demonstrates readiness for the next level of education. It’s an expensive failure. The district cost taxpayers $28,340 per student last year, the highest spending district in the state.
The abysmal return on investment has some questioning the administration in the district and even its very existence.
“We have 852 school districts (in Illinois),” Elizabeth Burghard, a self-described “taxpayer activist” from nearby Frankfort, told the Will County Gazette. “To me, that says there were millions of dollars being spent on unnecessary administration.”
Burghard and others have hit a wall with suggestions of reforms, including folding the district into another one, a move that would eliminate positions and reduce the burden on taxpayers.
“I don’t know how you force a change,” Burghard said.
Baldermann did not respond to requests for comments, but according to earlier news reports, he has resisted suggestions of a consolidation.
If Baldermann loses his job, the 51-year-old former Chicago Ridge chief of police can always fall back on his pension. He initially collected $129,192 a year when he retired in 2010 from Chicago Ridge with a bad back and a lump sum of $101,000 in a workers’ compensation settlement, according to a 2012 New Lenox Patch report.
In July 2014, the Chicago Ridge police pension board, citing an improper hike in salary on Baldermann’s last day of work, chopped his pension from $129,192 a year to $71,091. He fought the change in court and lost.
The Chicago Sun-Times in 2015 questioned the extent of his disability, citing a video posted by a friend of Baldermann's that showed him paddling a boogie board in Australia. He told the paper, "There's a big difference between riding in three feet of water and being a police officer."
Baldermann is also the mayor of New Lenox, a part-time position. He donates that $18,000 a year salary to charity.
In 2007, Baldermann, in a bid for the congressional seat open with the retirement of Republican Jerry Weller, signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform. The pledge commits signers to “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses … and oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."
He quit the race early in 2008 citing time constraints.