D97 board grants supt. new 5-year contract

Carol Kelley, first hired in 2015, received a $219,440 contract through 2022

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

Carol Kelley, superintendent of Oak Park's public elementary schools, will hold that post at least through 2022 after the District 97 school board approved a new five-year contract this week.

Meeting Aug. 15, the school board unanimously approved the new contract. Board members Rupa Datta, Rob Breymaier and Keecia Broy were not present for Tuesday's vote, but they each drafted statements in support of Kelley's new contract that were read by D97 board President Holly Spurlock.

Kelley was hired in 2015 to replace retiring superintendent Al Roberts. She was selected from a pool of nearly 50 candidates from 11 states. Kelley's first, three-year contract had a base salary of $199,500. Her new contract has a base of $219,440.

Kelley's five-year contract is a performance-based contract that measures the superintendent's ability to meet five "student performance and academic improvement goals … and any other performance goals and objectives established by the board," according to the language of the new contract. Pay increases will be based on achieving these goals and are limited to a maximum of six percent in any single year.

The first performance goal is for every student in the district to become a "known, nurtured and celebrated learner."

Some of the benchmarks used to indicate whether that goal is met or not are the "ongoing development and implementation of a strong social emotional learning curriculums," the ability of D97 teachers to access and participate in "professional development for instruction and cultural competency work, including implicit bias," and the district's ability to recruit, interview and/or hire "teachers that mirror" the D97 student population.

The other four goals, and their accompanying performance indicators, were also heavily focused on the district's attempts to improve equity and student-centered instruction.

Some of the performance indicators under the other four goals included the ability to decrease the number of students receiving office discipline referrals and receiving suspensions. Another indicator included reducing the reading and mathematics achievement gap.

Goal three, for instance, focuses on the superintendent's ability to "create an instructional environment that is aligned across all systems, structures and processes to support the whole child, increase confidence, and develop critical thinking skills so that every student is inspired to develop their full potential." 

Email: michael@oakpark.com

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Michael Nevins  

Posted: August 18th, 2017 6:51 PM

In today's mail came a paper providing a "sort of" explanation for the $2.6M over-taxation. They wrote that "In June, we discovered that we would be........due to an unexpected 5% increase in the equalization factor that IL....uses to....achieve uniform property assessment throughout the state." Umm, doesn't the "equalization factor" SOLELY affect our property tax assessment and that means EVERY OP (and Cook County) taxing district was impacted by this? If true, then why was D97 that made this large error? Their explanation either makes no sense or was written with the same logic as the Supt's "performance-based contract that measures....." Or, as usual, I'm missing something here - what do other readers think? What I'm not missing, though, is the "weasel" words that they ended this letter with - providing five different reasons why they'll keep the extra money. Is this deja vu all over again (think D200)?

Jenna Brown Russell  

Posted: August 18th, 2017 5:36 PM

@Alice, as long as the top falls (or departs) faster than the bottom, they will have achieved measurable success in shrinking the gap.

Alice Wellington  

Posted: August 18th, 2017 2:35 PM

Ramona Lopez - great post, and I agree 100%. The schools' focus seems to be changing from actual teaching to politics, and we're sure to see the results soon, in the form of plummeting scores and discipline.

Justin Lewis  

Posted: August 18th, 2017 2:28 PM

Typically goals should be "S.M.A.R.T", Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound in order to objectively rate an employee. I would suggest the goals as listed are not SMART.

Terry Stanton  

Posted: August 18th, 2017 9:49 AM

"strong social emotional learning curriculums" That's a lot of adjectives! And I still don't know what it means.

Tom MacMillan from Schrubtown  

Posted: August 18th, 2017 9:23 AM

Lets just call it a big guaranteed base salary, because those so called goals are so vague and subject to nothing actually measurable. Nice deal for Kelley, not very nice for the tax payers or the kids.

Barbara Joan  

Posted: August 18th, 2017 8:23 AM

$219, 440 PLUS very generous benefits & perks..." more vague and obscure goals"..Once again, the children get nothing of substance and taxpayers are bled dry.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: August 18th, 2017 12:28 AM

Instead of a goal of " every student in the district to become a "known, nurtured and celebrated learner", which is literally impossible to measure, how about something easy to measure like test scores and budgets? The feel good, social justice goals are not going to be as beneficial as skills like sentence structure, basic algebra, etc. Seriously, I mean what the heck is ""ongoing development and implementation of a strong social emotional learning curriculums,"? Are public school administrators now babysitters? I really like this one..."the other four goals included the ability to decrease the number of students receiving office discipline referrals and receiving suspensions". So now we are incentivizing faculty to NOT hold kids accountable. Lastly, "Another indicator included reducing the reading and mathematics achievement gap" So what gap are they speaking of? Am I to assume the gap between black and white students? Why isn't this said "gap" more specific. Are they really that afraid to actually say it or print it? I have NEVER seen more vague and obscure goals in my life. I wish I had those goals at my job. At the end of the day, the kids who don't achieve well probably have a LOT of issues going on at home that negatively impact their performance in school. The school should have programs and classes for PARENTS. Kids are kids. Allow them to be kids, but don't just hand out a bunch of participation trophies as if that's going to do any good. 95% of the time, the kids are NOT the problem, their environment/parents are. Bring the parents in and instruct them on how to help their kids with homework. Offer them resources if needed for a GED, CEDA assistance, rent assistance, etc. , but please stop with feel good stuff.

Kline Maureen  

Posted: August 17th, 2017 11:13 PM

perhaps it's a budget that includes 10% raises for all employees...

Dori Bernstein  

Posted: August 17th, 2017 9:53 PM

I would like to see something about staying within budget, assuming there is a budget.

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