District 46 Superintendent Ellen Correll will have to wait until next month to know if her contract will be extended for one year beyond her current contract, which ends June 30, 2012.
As soon as board president Ray Millington made the recommendation at Wednesday's District 46 board meeting to extend Correll's contract to June 30, 2013 at a salary of $170,844, board newcomers Shannon Smigielski and Kip Evans requested the vote be chaired until the board had two meetings to discuss the extension.
"Kip and I have spoken to Ellen about our need to have a discussion with her before we can approve the extension," said Smigielski.
While Evans cited board policy that requires two discussions on an issue before it can voted upon, and that he and Smigielski had not been given that opportunity, board vice president Keith Surroz called it a delay tactic.
"We have been going around the issue of Ellen's contract and you have kept putting it off," said Surroz.
"Before you said you wanted the allegations against her resolved before you could discuss her contract. Now we have gotten the response and you are still pushing the decision off," Surroz said. "Let's move forward, make your vote one way or the other."
One of the concerns Smigielski said needed to be addressed before casting her vote is wanting improved response from Correll to board questions.
"I have a three question rule. I ask a person a question three times in three different ways until I get a response. I have asked you questions that you have not answered," said Smigielski.
Correll apologized for any delay in responsiveness.
"I overlooked your request. I apologize. It is difficult when so many things are being flung at you," said Correll.
Smigielski went on to identify other commitments she needs from Correll.
"I know you have set performance goals, but I want to see what your goals for the district are. I would also like to see an ethics clause added to your contract," said Smigielski. "I take it very seriously when a letter of reprimand has been added to someone's personnel folder."
Citing a history of setting and achieving goals for the district, Correll responded that she would not have an issue meeting the requests.
"When I first started in the district I set goals and every one has been met. I suggested an extra questionnaire about my performance for the board as part of my review, not as part of the contract, but to provide additional information and feedback. I am absolutely the first to say I can improve. I have no problem having a stronger ethics clause in my contract," Correll said.
It became clear that the contract extension discussion was far from over when Michael Carbone told Correll that what he had to say to her was difficult to say, but necessary.
"Ellen, how may RIF's did the district have your first year? There were 32. How many administrators left this year? Four out of seven schools lost an administrator. What does that say to you?" asked Carbone.
Correll responded, "What is your point, Michael? That I had something to do with these people leaving? Why don't you ask them? How about (wanting to earn) more money? How about being closer to a family member with health issues?"
Carbone responded that he had heard from members of the community and some D46 administration members that the issue was tied back to Correll.
Carbone also questioned Correll's ability to hire a business manager and the district's involvement in multiple lawsuits.
"Ellen, how many business managers has the district had since you were hired six years ago? By my count there have been five. The most important hire for the superintendent to make and we have had five, including interim manager Vic Berner," said Carbone.
Board member Sue Facklam spoke on behalf of Correll.
"I don't know if people realize that when Ellen started in July 2005 there was no business office, no business manager and no records," said Facklam.
"The previous business manager took his remaining vacation time and left in June 2005 with no notice. Ellen has had to go from nothing to build a finance office," Facklam said.
As Carbone started to chastise Correll for playing a role in the lawsuits that have been filed against the district, board president Ray Millington interceded on Correll's behalf.
"Superintendent Correll has done an exemplary job in really tough times. I don't know what you're hoping to achieve by publicly castigating someone," said Millington.
Board member Karen Weinert also questioned Carbone's motives.
"You're completely out of line. Have you done your superintendent evaluation? I don't know where you're going with this," said Weinert.
When Carbone responded, "To get real awareness, I need to speak publicly. I am doing my evaluation right now," the board unanimously agreed to move into closed session where they remained for nearly an hour and a half.
Tempers flared throughout much of the meeting, including several shouting matches and a charge from Weinert of "grandstanding" by Evans, Smigielski and Carbone.
Surroz and Millington referred to some of the transparency policy requests from Carbone as "micromanagement" of the D46 administration and staff.
Board member Evans could not agree to the Consent Agenda, which included the monthly P-card, or purchasing card, statements.
"This is not a P-card, it's a 'party' card. I can understand if school supplies are being purchased, but staff dinners out, especially in other communities while businesses here in Grayslake need the business, just doesn't make sense," said Evans.
The next General board meeting will be held September 7 at Grayslake Middle School (GMS) at 6:30 p.m.