Breaking with past practice, the Lyons-Brookfield School District 103 Board of Education voted last week to give two-year contracts to three principals and the two assistant principals at George Washington Middle School.
The vote came eight days before the April 2 election that will determine control of the school board.
Curriculum Director Darek Naglak also received a two-year contract and Business Manager Sherry Reynolds Whitaker received a one-year extension on her deal, which was due to run out at the end of 2019-20 school year.
In the past, principals in District 103 have had one-year contracts. The decision to give the four principals, three of whom are now in their first year at District 103, two-year deals was based on the recommendation of co-interim superintendents Robert Madonia and Patrick Patt said school board President Marge Hubacek.
“We don’t want to lose our good principals,” Hubacek said. “It was based on just the recommendation of our superintendents.”
It is fairly unusual to award multiyear contracts to administrators a few months before a new superintendent takes charge. Kristopher Rivera will become superintendent on July 1.
“When someone has done a good job, it’s a good thing to do,” Madonia said.
Madonia said he didn’t believe the two-year contracts will tie Rivera’s hands.
“I don’t think so,” Madonia said. “We don’t offer any contracts to any principals who don’t have good performance.”
Longtime board member Joanne Schaeffer said that the uncertainty around the election persuaded her to vote in favor of two-year contracts for the district’s returning principals.
“This way they’re all secure and the district is secure for two years,” Schaeffer said. “That’s the only reason I would go for a two-year contract.”
Patt also said that the election on April 2 made it more of a priority to give principals added job security.
“I think when you find good people you want to keep them around,” said Patt mentioning the election.
Receiving two-year contracts were GWMS Principal Don Jones, Costello Principal Mark Antkiewicz and Edison Principal Jan Bernard, Home School Principal Kristen Smith received a one-year contract.
Jones, Antkiewicz, and Smith are in their first year in their current jobs. Bernard is a veteran principal who has been at Edison for decades.
Bernard will be paid $144,532 next year, while Jones will earn $110,000, Antkiewicz $99,910 and Smith $95,790.
The two assistant principals at GWMS, Ruby Ortiz and Gary Wheaton who are both also in their first years at District 103, also received two-year contracts. Both Ortiz and Wheaton will make $82,400 next year.
The vote to approve each principal’s contract was 5 to 1, with Jorge Torres casting the only no vote. Board member Mike Bennett was not at the meeting.
Naglak’s two-year contract was also approved by a 5 to 1 vote, with Torres voting no. Naglak, now in his second year in District 103, will make $115,000 next year.
The vote to extend Whitaker’s contract for an additional year was unanimous. Whitaker and Human Resources Director Kim Ontiveros received two-year contracts last year.
Ontiveros did not receive a contract extension.
“That was her choice, not to take an extension” Hubacek said. “She chooses to negotiate a contract next year.”
Lincoln School Assistant Principal Catherine Eichhammer received a one-year contract paying her $88,580.
Maintenance Director Mark Galba and Special Education Director Greg Bublitz received new one-year contracts. Joanne Schaeffer joined Torres in voting against those contracts.
Galba has been dealing with a serious illness this year. His salary next year will be $90,640.
Schaeffer said that she had concerns about Bublitz, adding she wanted to hear a report from him later in April.
“There are several questions in directions that he’s going that I have questions about,” Schaeffer said.
Bublitz will make $117,420 next year.
The district will have new principals at Lincoln School and Robinson School next year. Former Lincoln School Principal Tara Kristoff resigned in March and veteran Robinson School principal Al Molina has been reclassified as a teacher for next year after a vote of no confidence in him by Robinson School teachers.
“We hope to have someone in place by late spring,” said Madonia of the timeline for hiring new principals at Lincoln and Robinson.
Rivera will play a key role in making those hiring recommendations and a group of stakeholders, teachers and parents, will be involved in the interviewing process, Madonia said.
The new principals will likely receive one-year contracts Hubacek said.
Preschool Director Chris Newell also got a new one-year contract that will pay her $112,329.
This story has been changed to correct the length of the contract given to Home school Principal Kristen Smith and to correctly identify the two schools where there will be new principals in 2019-20.