Since release of the Landmark’s article on July 1 “D96 pays up to keep superintendent” the letters from individual citizens in the opinion section have been letters expressing disapproval of the board’s decision. This is a letter that supports the decision the board made.
In response to Mr. Vlazny’s letter (“Where’s the outrage over contract?” Letters, Aug. 5) that “board members should be ashamed to be seen in public,” I think the attack is a bit personal.
We all have our opinions of what the board did and it may be best to remember this: these are people who were elected in a village-wide vote. They are individuals who spend countless hours in board meetings and take time out talking and listening to taxpayers in Riverside about the district.
The board members take all input, good and bad, and try to do the best job they can -unpaid. They are citizens of this village, pay bills, raise responsible families and are trying to make a very good school district even better. To suggest that they not be seen in Riverside is taking this too far.
This board made the best decision possible. Maybe there is no outrage because most citizens agree with the decision. Many citizens I have talked to have come to this conclusion: the guy is worth it.
State ratings for this district are at the top, the Chicago Sun-Times and The Chicago Tribune and numerous other publications rate District 96 as one of the best in the state.
Most importantly to me, Dr. Lamberson has us on a track that is delivering and improving the academic, administrative and financial excellence in our community. In short, I believe the known entity of Dr. Lamberson’s leadership is best for our community and, yes, it is a lot of money which I am sure the board did not dismiss lightly. Comparisons with other high-performing districts have comparable contracts.
To reason that since other superintendents are turning down pay raises and urging teachers to do the same is bad logic. These districts continue to operate in the red and are underperforming.
To base your argument that Dr. Lamberson should take a pay cut based on what Chicago Public Schools are doing is flawed. One of the reasons many people move from Chicago to Riverside is that Riverside educates children better and provides the public a much better educational experience than Chicago Public ever could.
If I want my children to go to public schools in Chicago I will move to Chicago -what am I nuts?
Some who do not support the board’s decision argue that the children here come from solid backgrounds and would thrive under any board or school or superintendent. Why would one want to take that risk? This district continues to hire, train and develop outstanding faculty and staff. All while this district continues to operate in the black.
If you really are concerned about fiscal responsibility, then renewing Dr. Lamberson’s contract is a financially sound one. Remember the reasons why the board chose to renew the contract: Since Dr. Lamberson would have been eligible for early retirement benefits in 2010 (when his contract was supposed to end) the district would have to pay a penalty and new search costs potentially in excess of $300,000.
The process of seeking a new superintendent is expensive, interrupts the district progress currently being made and the leadership outcome unknown. His qualifications and proven track record since coming to our district in 2005 are a known entity.
If the board had chose not to retain him, most likely, District 96 would have had to hire two people, as most superintendents are not accredited school business managers, as required by Illinois law. Quit thinking short term and think long term and see that this was the best decision possible.
To suggest that the increase in Dr. Lamberson’s pay will lead to one’s inability to pay mortgages and increase foreclosures is a political red herring. Housing foreclosures are the direct result of people taking out loans for something they could not afford and borrowing oneself into oblivion.
The board made their decision and will have to live with the public and political outcome.
In my opinion, this board did the right thing, and they deserve our support both in public and at the polling stations. District 96 is a great school district and will continue to be so under Dr. Lamberson’s guidance and the current board we elected. I look forward to voting for these same board members in the future and encourage other citizens of Riverside to do the same.
Michael O’Brien is a Riverside resident.