Martha Ryan-Toye

Superintendent Martha Ryan-Toye will be sticking around Riverside Elementary School District 96 for at least three more years but Director of Finance and Operations Rob Holmes will not be back for a second year.

With one year left on her current contract, the school board decided to give Ryan-Toye a new three-year deal that will pay her $188,000 next year. That’s a $6,000 raise from her current annual salary. Future pay raises will be left to the discretion of the school board. 

District 96 school board President Jeff Miller said that the board acted now because they did not want Ryan-Toye to enter the final year of her contract without having the assurance that she will be staying. Her new contract will expire June 30, 2021.

“We are very happy that she is going to stay for another three-year contract,” Miller said before the school board voted 6-0 to approve the deal at the school board’s May 16 meeting.

Ryan-Toye came to District 96 in 2016 after serving as the director of student services at River Forest District 90.

“I’m very excited about the new contract, and I want to thank the board and the community for being so supportive of me and my time here in District 96,” Ryan-Toye said. “It’s a great school district and I look forward to continued work.”

Ryan-Toye recently earned a doctoral degree in education from Loyola University.

Come July 1, District 96 will also have a new business manager. Jim Fitton, who currently works as director of business services and facilities at the Northern Suburban Special Education District in Highland Park, was hired as District 96’s director of finance and operations replacing, Rob Holmes who quietly submitted his resignation, effective June 30, in March. 

Fitton’s contract was also approved at the May 16 board meeting.

Holmes’s resignation was part of a personnel report approved with the consent agenda at the March 21 meeting without specific mention or comment.

Holmes declined to comment to last week when asked whether he had a new job lined up and why he resigned.

 “Rob Holmes resigned, and we’re looking forward to new direction and new leadership in the area of finance and operations,” Ryan-Toye said. “I wish him well in his next steps and future endeavors for him.” 

Fitton will be the fourth business manager for District 96 since the position was established in 2013. 

Former Superintendent Bhavna Sharma-Lewis hired Zack Zayad in 2013, but he lasted a little more than one year, resigning in the summer of 2014 to take a job in a Burbank school district.

For next three years David Sellers, who had just retired as the business manager for Lyons Township High School, served as the part-time interim director of finance and operations in District 96. 

Sellers did, by all accounts, a fine job. He is highly thought of in school finance circles and is known for his detailed reports and extensive knowledge. 

As a retiree, Sellers was limited in the days he could work and still receive his pension. The board decided that they wanted a full-time business manager and hired Holmes last year. Holmes came to District 96 from Cicero District 99, and is making $111,000 this year.

Fitton, 53, is completing his fifth year as the chief finance officer at the Northern Suburban Special Education District. He majored in mathematics at the University of Dayton and began his career in private industry. 

He worked as a plant controller for Keebler for seven years and then did software consulting work for Accenture. He then started a moving company, but when the moving business cratered amidst the housing price collapse of a decade ago, he decided to move into school finance.

In 2010, Fitton earned a master’s degree in school finance from Northern Illinois University along with his endorsement as chief school business officer. 

Fitton began his career in school finance working as the business manager for Golf School District 97, a two-school district in Morton Grove. 

He then moved on to Mannheim School District 83, a five-school district based in Franklin Park. He stayed at Mannheim School District 93 for only six months before being hired by Northern Suburban Special Education District.

Fitton was chosen from a field of 22 applicants. Two finalists were interviewed by hiring committee that included Miller and board finance committee chairman Rich Regan. Fitton received a one-year contract and will paid $135,000 next year. He starts working at District 96 on July 1.

Other than Ryan-Toye all other returning District 96 administrators received new one-year contracts. The average pay raise for administrators other than Ryan-Toye was 3.15 percent.