The Lyons-Brookfield School District 103 Board of Education hired a pair of principals last week, but their appointments came with questions about the process used to choose the new building leaders.
With identical votes of 5 to 2, the school board hired Christopher Cybulski as the new principal at George Washington Middle School and Jennifer Bednarczyk as the new principal of Costello Elementary School in Lyons. The hires came during a special meeting of the school board on June 9.
Michael Bennett, Jorge Torres, Coleen Shipbaugh, Katie Broderick and Kendra Pierce voted for the hires. Longtime board member Joanne Schaeffer and Sharon Anderson cast votes against the two.
Prior to both votes, Schaeffer blasted the process, saying she was kept in the dark about how the candidates were chosen, who interviewed the candidates and who decided on salaries and benefits.
“We as a board are the ones who are supposed to decide these things, as far as salary, days off and benefits. Or are we eliminating the board?” Schaeffer said.
Anderson inquired whether the two new hires had approved of their contracts prior to the vote. Bennett, the board president, responded, “As far as I know,” suggesting that the two principals knew salary and benefit offers prior to at least some board members knowing those details.
“I strongly feel we need to have some classes in boardsmanship, because this is not how it’s supposed to be done,” Schaeffer said.
Reached Tuesday morning, newly hired Superintendent Carol Keene Baker confirmed that she and Interim Superintendent Kyle Hastings interviewed candidates for several positions.
Baker said that it’s difficult to find candidates so late in the school year and that “very often when we know of or think there might be someone out there who’s qualified, that has a really good reputation, that might be looking, sometimes we’ll go out searching for people as well.”
“I’m truly excited about the new principals we’re getting on board,” Baker said. “Both of them bring with them some good background experience.”
Cybulski comes to the George Washington Middle School from Franklin Park School District 84, where he has served as an administrator at Hester Junior High for the past seven years. He leaves Hester as its assistant principal.
It’s a homecoming of sorts for Cybulski, a Berwyn native who graduated from Morton West High School in 1998. He was, coincidentally, in the same graduating class at Morton West as Ken Getty, the brother of Lyons Village President Christopher Getty.
Asked if he was familiar with Christopher Getty, who has played a large role in bankrolling the campaigns of the new school board majority, Cybulski downplayed any personal relationship, saying he was familiar with the Getty name and that he understood the two Getty brothers to have gone to Morton West at about the same time he did.
“I’m super excited to have an opportunity to impact the local community and make George Washington a fun and exciting and vigorous learning place,” Cybulski told parents who turned out for the special meeting last week.
Asked about the split vote to hire him, Cybulski said he was “excited to win over” the board members who voted against his appointment.
Cybulski will be getting a raise as he jumps into the principal’s office. As assistant principal at Hester Junior High, Cybulski’s base salary was $101,156. His starting salary in District 103 will be $114,000.
Bednarczyk, who also briefly addressed parents at the meeting, comes to Costello School after a career entirely at the high school level.
Baker has known Bednarczyk since the latter was an honors physics student of hers back in 1991 at Eisenhower High School, where Bednarczyk would later be employed as a math teacher.
The past couple of years have been on the rocky side for Bednarczyk, who abruptly left her job as principal of Kankakee High School in early June after being in that post for just two months.
The Kankakee High School District board hired Bednarczyk as principal in February, and she started on the job full time April 1. However, she suddenly announced she was leaving that job in a one-sentence letter to the Kankakee school board on June 1, according to a report in the Daily Journal of Kankakee.
She told the newspaper “it just wasn’t a good fit.”
From 2008 until she left in April, Bednarczyk worked as a teacher and administrator in Rich Township High School District 227. She was named principal of Rich South High School in 2013 but was removed from that post by the District 227 school board in June 2015.
Bednarczyk was named director of STEM-Science-ELL Services, a job she held until she left for Kankakee.
When she was hired in Kankakee, her salary was to be $118,000 per year, according to the Daily Journal. She’ll be taking a hefty pay cut to be the principal at Costello School. Bennett announced prior to the District 103 board approving Bednarczyk’s hire that her starting salary would be $95,000.
Bednarczyk also has had political aspirations in her hometown of Monee. She ran to be village trustee in 2015 on a two-person slate handpicked by the village’s mayor, Jay Farquhar, according to the Crete-Monee Record-Monitor.
Farquhar made headlines earlier this month when he was suspended by a Monee youth baseball and softball organization for allegedly punching an umpire during a game between 7- and 8-year-olds. Farquhar, the coach of one of the teams, reportedly became upset at the umpire for questionable calls made during the game. He reportedly maintained he was acting in self-defense.