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Split board vote ratifies U-46 personnel report


By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 approved a personnel report and workers’ compensation cases file, but it came with some division and a 5-2 vote on Monday, March 5.
  Board members Phil Costello and Jeanette Ward voted against the file citing an expansion in the central office administration that’s seen within the file. Suzanne Johnson was promoted to a newly created deputy superintendent for instruction while Josh Carpenter was hired to fill her former position, the assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.
  Ward noted at the meeting that “this isn’t about individuals” as to why she was voting no but rather the expansion in the administration.
  “I have no problems with the individual, but the personnel report and workers’ compensation case files does include the hiring or an expansion in the number of administrators at the administrative building,” said Ward who added: “I don’t agree with expanding the number of administrators and I will therefore be voting no.”
  In a memo to the board, U-46 CEO Tony Sanders answered a question from Ward. Ward said, according to the memo, that she “expressed in closed session” that she opposed the expansion of administration and that is the effect of promoting Johnson and hiring Carpenter.
  “Since I don’t see another way to vote/express this publicly I am going to pull the personnel report off the consent agenda and vote no, with explanation,” Ward wrote.
  Sanders replied that he “never filled the vacant position of Chief of Staff” that he held under former Superintendent Jose Torres, and since June 2017 the district no longer needed an interim superintendent.
  “Instead of filling the vacant Chief of Staff position, I asked the Board to support my new organizational structure which included the elevation of Dr. Johnson to Deputy Superintendent for Instruction,” Sanders wrote. “The Board of Education supported my new organizational structure.”
  Torres left U-46 in September 2014 for a position at IMSA and Sanders was promoted to the CEO position to take over Torres’ role but was not qualified for the position under state law requiring the district to hire an interim superintendent, Kenneth Arndt, to sign documents that required a qualified superintendent. A new state law was approved and took effect in June 2017 that affects Sanders solely allowing him to assume the role without the need for an interim superintendent.
  Ward noted at the meeting that “the board majority did support it” but said she opposed it.
  Donna Smith, the board’s president, said: “We are not actually adding a position. We are bringing back a position from before that wasn’t needed because we had the interim superintendent and CEO working together. So we’re just bringing back that position and filling.”
  Costello asked if this new organizational structure was budgeted for which Sanders said it was.
  Like Ward, Costello said “this is not in any way a reflection on” the individuals involved, but he also disagreed with an expansion of administration especially with the current fiscal climate.
  “We do have to look at any avenue possible,” Costello said. “I think that these are things that should be challenged any time we can to make sure that we are advancing this organization understanding that we’re in a very tight financial burden.”
  Also concerning personnel, the board approved a human resources (HR) resolution authorizing the honorable dismissal of teachers. The resolution was approved 7-0.
  Melanie Meidel, assistant superintendent of HR, said there were 60 teachers included in the dismissal which include “certified staff who are part time, late hire or categorized as temporary staff.”
  Resolutions for dismissal of staff are common for this time of year according to the agenda item which stated: “While the Board of Education takes this action very seriously, dismissal consideration is customary at this time of year in order to follow state requirements.”

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