D103 board makes GWMS dean position official

Lower salary reflects shorter work year than assistant principal

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By Bob Skolnik

Contributing Reporter

The Lyons-Brookfield School District 103 board on Jan. 28 voted 4 to 3 to officially hire Sarah Torrejon to be a dean at George Washington Middle School. The new position replaces an assistant principal position and pays an annual salary of $76,000.

The three members of the school board who voted against the hire -- Sharon Anderson, Marge Hubacek and Shannon Johnson -- did so not because they were against Torrejon, but because they felt that she should be an assistant principal and paid $80,000 a year, the same salary assistant principals received when they were hired in 2018.

Prior to the vote, Hubacek's motion to change Torrejon's title to assistant principal and make her salary $80,000 was defeated by a 4 to 3 vote.

Torrejon will work a shorter year than GWMS Assistant Principal Gary Wheaton works. Torrejon will work one week past the end of the school year this year and, assuming she is rehired next year, report to work one week before teachers report in August. Wheaton works a couple weeks more.

Hubacek complained that Torrejon, a woman, will be paid less than Wheaton, a man, was paid when he was first hired in 2018. 

"It's not fair to hire her, pay her less money: same responsibility, less money and less time," Hubacek said.

Johnson complained that the middle schools usually have assistant principals while junior highs have deans.

Vito Campanile, who voted with the majority, said he didn't really care about what title Torrejon had. 

"I've never been very big on titles," Campanile said after the meeting.

Superintendent Kristopher Rivera said that it didn't matter to him if Torrejon was called a dean or an assistant principal. 

Hubacek charged that board President Jorge Torres controls the majority bloc and whatever he says goes.

 "Minions follow," Hubacek said after the meeting. "The king has spoken, and there you go." 

Torrejon has actually been working at GWMS since students returned from Christmas vacation in January. Previously, she had been an English as a Second Language teacher at Home School in Stickney. Before coming to District 103, she had spent 15 years as a bilingual teacher for Chicago Public Schools.

Torrejon declined to comment after the meeting. 

She replaces Rubi Ortiz, a former GWMS assistant principal who was promoted over the summer to a new position as the director of bilingual programs for the district. 

The second assistant principal position was vacant for the first four months of this school year after an offer to CPS teacher Socorro Mendoza was revoked in September.

Rivera said Torrejon's precise duties would be up to GWMS Principal Don Jones, who is leaving the school in June to take a job as a principal in Des Plaines.

"We didn't change the job description," Rivera said. "We kept the job description flexible."

Rivera said that it is possible that Torrejon will have more responsibility for discipline and do fewer teacher evaluations than Wheaton.

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