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D181 Board Delays Action on Superintendent's Contract Extension

Superintendent Renée Schuster's two-year extension was put on hold for two weeks after two board members raised concerns about the board's approval process following a late-night executive session Monday.

Board President Michael Nelson had the District 181 Board of Education delay action on an extension of Superintendent Renée Schuster’s contract Monday night after two board members raised concerns about the way the item was drafted and the time that it was being voted on.

A motion to execute the two-year contract extension for Schuster, who was been with the district since 2009, came after an executive session that followed a long meeting at Monroe School in Hinsdale. Brendan Heneghan and Yvonne Mayer spoke out against the item after the board returned to open session, which eventually led Nelson to ask that Marty Turek rescind his motion.

Heneghan and Mayer said the contract did not include any specific salary numbers beyond the annual administrative raise tied to CPI, and Mayer had a problem with the fact that the item was being voted on after 11 p.m. on the night of a Committee of the Whole meeting.

“We’re being very irresponsible here,” Mayer said. “I’m shocked by our behavior.”

Heneghan said he did not think the board should act on a contract extension when the final wording was given to them on Monday afternoon.

“I think it’s unfair to the board, unfair to the citizens, and unfair to Dr. Schuster to have this debacle in front of us right now,” Heneghan said.

Board member Sarah Lewensohn said Heneghan’s comments were misleading in that the board has seen “nearly all“ of the contract during its negotiations, which Schuster said have been ongoing since September.

Nelson halted the discussion and said taking a vote Monday night didn’t feel right.

“We support Dr. Schuster and we support her in this district,” Nelson said. “That being said, Brendan and Yvonne are actually quite right—we’re forcing it through a knothole when we shouldn’t be.”

Nelson said the contract extension will likely be an item on the board’s Nov. 12 agenda.

Turek said the rescinding of his motion was in no way a vote of no confidence for Schuster. Instead it was done only so that the contract’s wording could be improved.

According to Turek’s motion, the contract extension would keep Schuster as District 181’s superintendent for the next two school years and give her annual raises tied to CPI, which Nelson said is typical of District 181 administrator contracts.

Since the district bases its salary increases on the CPI of the previous year, Schuster would receive a 3 percent increase in 2013-14 based on the 2012 CPI. The extension would also grant Schuster the 1.5 percent current-year increase that was planned for her, but which she has so far not received.

In reaction to Heneghan and Mayer's concern that no hard salary figures were included in the contract, Nelson crunched the numbers on the spot Monday night.

He said that if the board agrees to the contract extension, Schuster’s salary would go from $214,000 to $217,210 this year with the 1.5 percent increase, and then to about $223,726 next year with the 3 percent increase.

Schuster’s increase for the second year of the contract won’t be known until the 2013 CPI is calculated.

John October 31, 2012 at 05:27 PM
What happened to having negotiating power? Why is a majority of the board so desperate to keep this superintendent? She has obviously not done a good job addressing the various district issues and is spending our tax money irresponsibly. In no place of business would you approve a contract without reviewing it completely, even if the revisions were pointed out. I am boggled at the fact that a majority of the board would want to consider approving a contract with no salary figure and then pull out what it seems like a piece of paper to do on the spot calculations at 11pm or later. Let's get real. This is a board of education approved contract! Be responsible. This should not have been considered obviously at the last board meeting.

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