The District 200 Board of Education last week approved a 1.5-percent salary increase for Supt. Attila Weninger for the upcoming school year.

The board voted 6-1 for the salary bump. Sharon Patchak-Layman voted against the increase. Next fall, Weninger will enter the final year of a three-year contract. The former Lyons Township High School administrator received a 4-percent pay hike last year, an $8,000 increase to his $200,000 salary. Patchak-Layman also voted against that increase, as did new board President Dietra Millard, who supported the 1.5-percent bump this time around.

The board was considering a pay increase this year and had until July 1 to approve one, said board member Jacques Conway. Weninger had suggested the 1.5-percent increase. In a letter to the board dated April 25, Weninger noted the downturn in the economy and the board’s efforts to contain costs and increase revenues as reasons for suggesting a smaller increase.

“Mindful of my responsibility to set a clear, compelling and visible example to the school community and community at large about the district’s current economic realities, the following recommendation, I believe, represents responsible fiscal judgment and leadership at the highest level,” he stated in the letter.

Conway said he agreed with the superintendent’s recommendation.

“I thought it was a good step financially. I think it was in the best interest for us financially. For me, it’s not an indication of how well he has or hasn’t done his job. The 1.5 percent is where we are in our financial situation.”

The increase was approved last Thursday prior to the new board being seated. Conway said members of the retiring board agreed that they should make a decision on Weninger’s pay increase and allow the new board to decide on whether to extend his contract. Conway maintained that since the retiring board had completed his evaluation, they should decide on the increase.

The 1.5 percent figure, Conway noted, was the same as the recently settled Buildings & Grounds Department contract.

“It’s only fitting that the superintendent is in line with what we gave B&G,” he said, adding that the next bargaining units up for new contracts are the building’s security staff and clerical personnel.

During last week’s vote, some members explained their decision.

“The amount that was recommended, the one and a half percent, I don’t agree with that,” said Patchak-Layman. “I think the compensation should have some relationship to job performance, and I don’t believe that additional compensation at this point matches my feelings about the job performance this year of the superintendent.”

Patchak-Layman has argued previously that the superintendent should be evaluated yearly on whether his goals for the school year have been met. Among her other criticisms of Weninger was his student achievement plan from fall 2007.

John Allen, however, countered, saying that based on Weninger’s job performance this year, the increase should be higher.

“I think you’ve done a good job this year,” he said.

Ralph Lee echoed Allen’s statement in supporting the increase. Weninger and Allen last year coordinated the board’s series of discussions on race and the achievement gap at OPRF. One of Weninger’s first moves upon his hiring was reorganizing the offices of the discipline deans and counselors. They now work in the same space and more closely on their student caseloads. Janel Bishop, OPRF assistant principal for student health and safety, during a first-semester discipline report to the board in March, noted the positive impact that’s had in helping more students with discipline

Weninger was hired in 2007 from Lyons Township High School, where he served as human resources director and previously as director of curriculum.

CONTACT: tdean@wjinc.com

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