D97 adds new administrator

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District 97 will add an administrative position to oversee its new alternative education program and to coordinate grants.

The Board of Education voted 5-1 June 28 to create the new interim Grants/Alternative Education administrator for the upcoming school year.

The person will be a part-time administrator paid at an assistant principal level, between $77,000 and $90,000 a year, and will also teach classes in the alternative program.

Superintendent Constance Collins said the position is for one year, and would be evaluated next spring.

Collins said other school districts have an administrator that manages district grants.

"I think as we go down the road and evaluate where we are with these pieces at the end of this time next year or in the spring of next year, we can start looking at what some of the other options are," she said. "Right now, I think that we have got to begin this work immediately to be ready for the start of school."

Collins would appoint an individual for the position instead of seeking board approval.

Kevin Anderson, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, said the position would be funded from savings of the current alternative education program, and through portions of Title I No Child Left Behind funding.

Last month, the board voted to move its current alternative program from the Hephzibah Children's Association to West 40 Regional/Safe Schools, an alternative school in Lyons. The new administrator would oversee a companion alternative school for lower at-risk students, run out of Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School, 325 S. Kenilworth.

Anderson added that an administrative staff person coordinated grants in the past.

"We know that we are very behind in seeking available funding through grants, and we'd like this person to be more proactive in keeping track of all of our title, township, federal and state grants," said Anderson.

Board member Sharon Patchak-Layman voted against the new position. Michelle Harton was not present for the vote.

Layman said she didn't think that the district needed another administrative level position. She added that the responsibilities required two different skill sets and may be difficult for one person to fill.

"I view these as two separate responsibilities," she said. "I don't see this as a combined position. The grants facilitator, in particular, is a sub-skill set that many people have in the community who work with grants. It's not necessarily an administrative position."

Board member Peter Barber, though, said he wanted to see the district become more aggressive in seeking grants.

"Particularly from the grants perspective, I would like us to get out of the maintenance mode, which is important, but frankly, I think we have that down," he said. "I absolutely believe that there are more grant opportunities that we can do, and I think having someone that is beyond an administrative assistant type person but who is more of an administrator is a smart move."

Barber, however, agreed that the position required separate skill sets and that either "could become very consuming, even on a half-time basis. That's one of the things, if we're going to look at this as kind of a trial run, that I want to know?#34;are both really being fully served?"

?#34;Terry Dean

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