Vote on District 97 principal contracts tabled ... again

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The District 97 Board of Education tabled a vote on principal contracts at its Dec. 1 regular meeting, again extending the process of setting goals for its principals at least until its Dec. 15 meeting.

Board President Ade Onayemi had hoped to finish the contracts in July and is eager to conclude the matter.

"I wanted this done yesterday," he said.

A change in state law three years ago enabled school boards to write performance expectations into principal contracts. The changes have forced board members to learn the particulars of the new law, and ways the board might impose its vision and oversight on each school, Onayemi said in July.

The contract does not establish salary, benefits or define many other issues as in teachers contracts. The principal contract primarily sets district-wide and school-specific goals for principals.

Nevertheless, the board has worked in closed session to finalize details of the contracts. Asked why discussions weren't held in open session, Board President Ade Onayemi said, "It's's their contract."

Onayemi said the principals and the board have met independently with Supt. John C. Fagan to discuss terms of the contracts but representatives of all concerned have not sat in the same room negotiating.

He would not say what issues delayed the vote, but said that all principals would have district goals in their contract, and that some would have additional school-specific goals. Both types of goals, as well as performance indicators, are still being worked out, Onayemi said.

District officials told WEDNESDAY JOURNAL in August that they aimed to create more measurable and more achievable goals in this contract.

Also at issue is the duration of the contract. Onayemi said that the conditions in the contract are designed for a multi-year deal, but said that hasn't been finalized. He said conditions for a one-year deal would have to be rewritten. A one-year deal, despite being inked nearly halfway through the school year, wouldn't pose any problems, as the goals that will be outlined are things principals should be doing as part of their jobs anyway, he said.

Duration terms of the new contract effectively will pertain only to principals at eight of the district's 10 schools. The Irving School position is being filled by an interim (former Julian Middle School assistant principal John Hodge), while Whittier School Principal Paula O'Malley ill retire at the end of the school year.

Salaries for principals and other administrators were approved by the board in June. Salaries for most principals are $90,059. Middle school principals earn $96,400, plus a $3,500 stipend. Holmes Principal Laurel Muhammad makes $100,720. O'Malley, who will be in the second year of a two-year retirement agreement that bumps her salary 20 percent each year, makes $156,916.

Mann mulberry removal to cost $5-6K

Costs for the removal of mulberry trees and planting of new trees near the Mann School parking lot are expected to cost District 97 between $5,000 and $6,000, Supt. John C. Fagan said last week.

The trees have become a cause célèbre for a group of Mann neighbors, who have decried the district's intent to remove them. Mann is at 921 N. Kenilworth Ave.

Some neighbors addressed the board about the issue. But President Ade Onayemi has insisted that the matter be handled by district staff, and encouraged any comments to be directed to the central office.

In a Nov. 29 letter to Mann families, Fagan writes the trees were never part of the planned landscaping at the school, that they are causing damage to a school fence and that pruning would not prevent further damage.

In place of the mulberry trees, McAdam Landscaping, the district's contractor, plans to plant a pear tree, a Douglas fir, and "several flowering lilac and chockeberry [sic] bushes along the fence," Fagan writes.


?#34;Drew Carter

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