D200 assistant superintendent Greg Johnson | Alex Rogals

Greg Johnson, the superintendent of Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200, has a new contract.

 Even though Johnson had one year remaining on his initial three year contract as superintendent, the school board gave him a new, four-year contract in a unanimous vote Thursday. 

School boards typically don’t allow a superintendent to enter the final year of their contract without an extension if they want the superintendent to stick around. Johnson has been a popular leader at OPRF.

“He’s heading us in the right direction,” said school board President Tom Cofsky.

Johnson’s new contract gives him a five percent raise bumping up his salary to $260,000 from the $247,500 he made last year. Raises in the final three years of his contract are dependent upon performance and the will of the school board.

After the meeting, school board member Mary Anne Mohanraj praised Johnson noting that he became superintendent in 2021 in the midst of the Covid pandemic.

“It was a very difficult time taking over several initiatives that had been going on for quite a while which were challenging and has carried them through with grace and tremendous patience,” she said.

In his two years as superintendent, Johnson’s most controversial achievement was leading the effort to get the long-discussed and argued-about Project 2 rebuild of much of the school’s physical education wing, complete with a new,10-lane swimming pool, approved by the school without going to a referendum. Project 2 is now estimated to cost about $102 million. 

Some thought the question of whether to borrow the money to pay for such an expensive project should have been decided by the district’s voters in a referendum. Instead, the school board, following Johnson’s recommendation, decided to pay for Project 2 by issuing about $45 million in debt certificates — a type of borrowing that does not require a referendum — and using about $44 million from the school’s large cash reserves. Private donations are expected to cover the rest of Project 2’s cost.

Last year, the freshman curriculum was revamped as OPRF implemented its Honors for All freshman curriculum, in which most freshmen are placed in Honors courses for most freshman classes other than math. The mid-level College Prep Level track was eliminated for most freshman classes in an effort to get more Black students exposed to more rigorous classes that can lead to Advanced Placement classes later in high school. Black students at OPRF are underrepresented in Honors and AP classes compared to their percentage of the student body.

“I’m very excited about continuing the work and I’m appreciative of the board for their support,” Johnson said.

Unlike some superintendents, Johnson has been an outgoing and visible presence at OPRF, regularly walking the halls and often chatting with faculty, staff and students. 

“Every single day I make an effort to be out in the school and at least walk the halls, whether it’s during passing periods or lunch periods, or whatever it is and interact with folks that I see there,” Johnson said.

Johnson has also built a cohesive administrative team.

Johnson, 48, was born in Elmhurst and attended York High School. He came to OPRF in 2017 as the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction and was bumped up to the post of associate superintendent in 2019 before becoming superintendent in 2021. While heading curriculum and instruction, Johnson led the first curriculum review process at OPRF in many years. 

Before coming to OPRF, Johnson spent seven years as the principal of Centennial High School in Champaign. Before becoming Centennial’s principal in 2010, he taught English at Urbana High School for nine years and then served as assistant principal at Urbana High School for two years. 

Johnson has three degrees from the University of Illinois, including a Ph.D. in education policy, organization and leadership.

Johnson’s new contract runs until June 30, 2027.

Join the discussion on social media!