Vote to Extend D46 Superintendent Contract Fails

The Grayslake District 46 School Board voted 3 to 3 Wednesday on a motion to extend Supt. Ellen Correll's contract. The tie resulted in the motion failing, but a second vote is imminent.

The Grayslake District 46 School Board is expected to take a second vote on whether to extend Superintendent Ellen Correll's contract after Wednesday's vote ended in a tie, which resulted in the motion failing.

As they did last year, board members Michael Carbone, Kip Evans and Shannon Smigielski voted against extending Correll's contract.

Ray Millington, Keith Surroz and Karen Weinert voted in favor of giving Correll another year, from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014, at an un-changed salary of $170,844.

Sue Facklam, who left the meeting early after stating her husband was in the hospital, was not present for the vote, hence the 3-3 tie.

Board secretary Lourie Shipley advised the board that due to the tie, any board member could bring the motion back to the table for a second vote, which could happen as soon as Nov. 7.

Pattern of mistakes

When Correll's contract came up for discussion, Carbone said she had "made too many mistakes" that could not be overlooked.

Carbone said Correll demonstrated a pattern of behavior that he alleged included not following directives related to securing bids from multiple health insurance brokers to save premium costs, which Weinert disputed on Correll's behalf.

Carbone also accused Correll of using poor judgment in hiring practices, which led to a lawsuit by a former business manager who was quickly fired after it was discovered he had been placed on administrative leave by his former school district.

Carbone also took issue with the Correll's contract being up for a vote when teachers were working without one themselves and could be preparing for a walk-out.

"We're talking about your contract when the people who do all the work don't have a contract. To me that is failed leadership."

Carbone said Correll should "have the decency" to wait to get her contract extended until the union contract negotiations are resolved instead of "putting yourself first."

Millington said the board was required to give Correll notice by April 1 whether it intended to extend her contract. "We owe her the respect of knowing," he said.

"The last thing I want to do is flash in front of the teachers that we're giving the superintendent an extension of her contract and we don't know what, if anything, we could do for our teachers and staff," said Evans. "There's a lot of people in this district who haven't had raises in a few years, if ever."

Weinert made it clear that Correll's contract extension did not include more money. "There is no increase. It's an extension, and we need a superintendent," she said.

"No, we don't. Let her go," said a member of the audience in a low, disgruntled voice.

"The only reason I'd like to push for the extension is to give some stability to the district," said Millington. "All we need now is throw another new person into the mix."

Karen Hord October 18, 2012 at 02:33 PM
What a disgracefully, disfunctional school board this has become. When you have members of the business community start a special meeting begging the board to hold the line on costs because of the very negative impact of our property taxes, and then have a discussion of where to cut costs hijacked by board member Smigielski, it is unexplainable. The first item to cut up for discussion was for an approximately $360,000. The reason for that particular cut should have made the decision very cut and dried. It would have resulted in a reduction of the deficit in the budget by almost a third. For Ms. Smigielski to have fought against that cut was unfathomable. This district needs tough choices made, not this garbage.
HM October 18, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Karen - I was unable to be at the meeting. What were the $360,000 in proposed cuts? Sad that the community has to come up with ideas for realistic cuts - where is the board and administration on this matter?
Sandra Sims October 18, 2012 at 03:08 PM
You're right, SJ, about Carbone. I didn't include him because I am waiting to see if he will even be a factor, due to his campaign for the LC board. Everyone up for election next year needs to go. And I am angry because I live on a fixed income, no one is offering me 14% raises like Ms Correll, or pension spikes. Every time this horrendous board and their horrendous Administrators screw up, it brings me a little closer to losing my home to taxes. And for nothing. Not because we have the best schools in IL (They are good, but not the best), but for boondoggles, bad hires, lawsuits, ethics and corruption, nepotism and insane salaries. Other districts manage to do more with less. The motto of D46 seems to be "always more tax money". Darn right I'm angry.
Sandra Sims October 18, 2012 at 03:11 PM
As ridiculous as it is that the business community has to explain reality to the board, I thank God they are doing so. Homeowners don't seem to have a voice. Maybe if the district starts bleeding businesses due to insane property taxes, something might actually be done.
Pete Gardner October 18, 2012 at 03:12 PM
I attended my first meeting last night. It was disgraceful but I disagree with your position @KH. The $300,000 Smigielski fought to save was curriculum money. She didn't say spend it foolishly. She said supplement classrooms with materials and supplys. If there is an opportunity to provide better materials, add materials then it should be done. A parent last night mentioned to me that there is no accelerated program. One school isn't making progress so much so that the state has mandated school choice for those families. There are places curriculum dollars could be used to help the students and staff. Education is the priority. I agree that tough choices need to be made but not using at least some of that money on education is what is unfathomable. That is just one old mans opinion.
Karen Hord October 18, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Did not take notes as to exactly what that cut was called. It involved a fund that included monies for textbooks, and the board knew that due to possible upcoming curriculum changes, the amount would not be needed during the upcoming year, especially because there is an additional $500,000 remaining in the budget for that line item to cover additional expenses.
HM October 18, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Pete - Thank you for bringing up some very important points. I am speaking to the lack of an accelerated program, and the fact that one of our schools is not meeting their annual goals. I think that the issue of having no accelerated program can be addressed without spending much money at all. It is quite simple. Group the kids. However, that is not PC, and so you will see lots of disagreement. However, if you took the brightest math students in each grade and put them in a class together, that teacher could really help them excel. In turn, you take the kids struggling the most and put them together, and the teacher for them could teach to them directly, and not have to pull them along too quickly so they keep up with the rest of the class. When you put all abilities together, and teach to the middle, you get exactly what you deserve. Bright kids remain unchallenged and bored, struggling kids remain frustrated and lag behind. The kids in the middle do okay. Is that really what we want? For the record - Ellen is against grouping of any kind in K-4. Instead, the schools promise classroom differentiation, which means the poor teacher has to spend 5 to 10 minutes with each level in the classroom. Also - at the Middle school, they do have accelerated Math and English classes, and do an excellent job with those students. They also have such classes at Frederick.
Pete Gardner October 18, 2012 at 04:15 PM
@HM You are welcome.Thank you for your input about accelerated programs. One thing that was also mentioned, while there is $500,000 in the budget for curriculum, that is to maintain its current materials. I'm not suggesting and I don't believe that Ms. Smigielski was either, that the additional $300,000 be used completely, but if there is an opportunity to add sustainable materials to the classrooms to aid the teachers for years to come, then that should be explored. If parents are allowed school choice for kids that comes at a high price to any budget. I'd rather see $300,000 or part of it spent in efforts to better the opportunities to learn at the school that is failing so the financial burden on the district isn't increased. If $300,000 is used to alleviate the budget now, it won't be there to alleviate next years budget. It is a short term solution. It is my understanding that the budget already has a tax increase in it and that the $1.2 million shortage is with that tax increase. @ Karen Hord I think that is where there might be some confusion. Your taxes will be affected regardless of that $300,000. Your taxes will also be affected each year because that $300,000 won't be there every year to fill a deficit. I have a new respect for the difficult decisions ahead. The financial future of the district and the community are far more dire than I had imagined.
Karen Hord October 18, 2012 at 05:12 PM
I am not under an impression that my taxes will go down with this budget adjustment. I put 3 kids, and now have 5 grandkids in D46. Have lived here over 25 years, and have seen many ups and downs. I have participated in many a committee over the years. Sometimes, tough choices need to be made. The biggest problem facing this board is the complete lack of communication. I witnessed bullying. I did not witness real discussion. This board needs to be proactive for the kids, but they were elected by the community, and they do need to serve both sides.
WorriedParent October 18, 2012 at 06:58 PM
I would have to agree with Evans and Carbone on waiting to approve Correll's contract. What a slap in the teacher's faces that the board thinks Correll's contract is more important right now than theirs. As Millington says we have until April 1 to give her notice, what's the rush? I know, they want to get it approved before there may be a shake up in the board come April elections. Just like last year, they wanted it in before the new board took place. Priorities are way off! Get the teacher issue settled first who have an expired contract and worry about Correll's another time! And in regards to the curriculum money, why would we want to take money directly away from the kids? We have to find budget cuts in other areas, like expenditures or the 50% retro pay increase for another admin staff that was approved recently. Why should yet another administrative person get a 50% increase while you tell teachers they get nothing this year. No one should get anything. There should be a freeze on all new expenses.
Terri October 18, 2012 at 07:09 PM
HM Not only is it not "PC", think of the other implications. Teachers are evaluated on those all-important, standardized test scores. Would we want the teachers with the advanced students to get all the praise while the teacher with the low aptitude ones gets graded down?
HM October 18, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Terri - give me a break. There are more gains to be made with the lower classes - those kids have room to move their test scores, and good teachers will reach them. Kids who test in the 98th and 99th percentiles do not have any room to move their scores up, and often have a year or two where they go down a percentage or two or three. So in reality, those kids don't help the teachers's evaluations either. Also - no matter the level, it is more important to look at where the kids started and where they finish the school year, not their overall percentile. Kids who are on the slower side do worse when classes move too quickly. Kids on the faster side fail to excel when they are forced to slow down. It's not good for any of them. And for the record, I have kids at both ends of the spectrum, so I am speaking from experience. I have also taught, and know that differentiation in the classroom is not the answer. It is more productive for the students and the teacher when the kids are close to the same level.
Jose Cuervo October 18, 2012 at 08:11 PM
@KH Smigielski voted AGAINST tax levy increases, retro pay increases, last year's budget with a tax increase, the recent budget that was approved with a deficit, and has asked repeatedly to go out for bid on every single operating expenditure. She has fought to bring grant writers to the district to increase revenue. She also fought for and sat on the finance committee which included community, trying to keep it intact to continue to bring ideas to the board about ways to reduce costs. The 4 majority, none of which served on the finance committee, voted to shut it down 2 months ago! Serves both sides indeed!
Terri October 18, 2012 at 11:01 PM
excellent points, HM! Exactly what the teachers are fighting for! Unfortunately, they are evaluated on raw scores; not improvement. It's a mandate. If you'd stop being so hostile with me, you might find we're on the same page with a number of things...
Tim Froehlig October 19, 2012 at 01:13 AM
@Pete: There are in fact advanced reading and math programs at Avon Elementary schools but I cannot speak about specifics of the other schools. At the middle school, they also have accelerated math and reading programs, so to say the district have none isn't completely accurate. There are too many things being said that aren't factual. I hope people check their facts before posting angrily. @Karen: Your words toward Smigielski, who is one of the few board members who has a balanced approach and attitdue toward what's really going on in this district is misinformed and unfortunate. You use words like "hijacked" and other angry words. Know all the facts before making a personal attack like that. Perhaps these kids should have no supplies or books or materials in the classroom. You want to start cutting things, and you're mad because this woman chose to stand up for the students in her budget decision? Really? Why not the same anger for the outlandish administrative salaries, those who keep getting raises or the teachers who are angry and threatening to strike based in part because they want pension spikes that are greater?
Tim Froehlig October 19, 2012 at 01:15 AM
@Sandra: How do you know the board didn't ask the business community to come in so they could get their input? What is wrong with wanting to hear from all parties involved? That is a good thing not a bad thing. And yet again you come here and personally start making biased attacks againt the board without knowing all the facts. Do I agree with everything the board does? No. But more community input is never a bad thing. Period.
Tim Froehlig October 19, 2012 at 01:18 AM
@Karen: You are calling people names and insulting them for their choices to protect student curriculum items and school supplies, yet you don't even, by your own words, know what the item in the budget is called. If there is so much additonal money left over, then tell me, why does the district project to be over $1.2 million in the red if there's so much extra cash floating around as you falsely claim here? People are entitled to opinions, but it is unfortunate how misinformed and how much inaccurate information is being spread on this site alone.
Tim Froehlig October 19, 2012 at 01:21 AM
That's what they were trying to do when Smigielski stood up for the kids last night. Sadly, you chose to insult her and call her names on this board for choosing to do so. And you are right, your taxes likely will go up. Perhaps that's because you have administrators getting ridiculous raises, which people like the woman you attack have voted against numerous times, teachers threatening to strike if they don't get more money...all while there's a huge deficit.
Tim Froehlig October 19, 2012 at 01:25 AM
She is one of the few people who has a clue what's going on Jose. Thanks for your post. Yet she has had to endure disgusting personal and political attacks for trying to stand up for these kids in a ver difficult economic time. Some of the things people have called her are the kinds of things you'd hear mean children say, and frankly, it shows the bigger problem in this community is those who are spreading false information around. She's been accused of being a Tea Party member, despite having no polticial affiliation, and has had personal attacks made on her and those she knows....even by some who are in the district's union. How sad when someone volunteers their time and has to put up with that kind on nonsense. It should put in perspective what some of the real problems are.
Keith Surroz October 19, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Hi, This is Keith Surroz. I just wanted you to know that curriculum development dollars are not used for classroom supplies. The curriculum development fund is used to study and implement upgraded curriculum that traditionally has been on a seven year cycle. One year you might do lower grades science and the following year the upper grades. This process would be done for language arts and math as well. Often times it was aligned with funding for particular textbook purchases for subject matter from the state as to maximize the district's purchasing power. This year we have several factors that may suggest not spending this money. At the present time we do not have a curriculum director to organize and implement the process. Since our year goes July through June we will have gone through almost half the year before we can start. Also if you had a chance to see last meeting we were given a presentation on the Common Core Standards. In that presentation we were told that the materials (i.e. textbooks, workbooks, and related materials) have not yet "caught up" to the new standards and thus make adopting the new curriculum difficult this year. Lastly, this money is part of fund balance. Any deficits ultimately get paid out of fund balance. Unlike the state we cannot just not pay our bills. Also our auditor has shown that our current fund balance is at 157 days of operational reserve while the state asks us to be at a minimum of 180 days. Have a great day!
Karen Hord October 19, 2012 at 02:51 PM
My biggest problem was with the complete lack of respect with which ANY discussions were made, not only Ms. Smigielski's. I stand by my comment that it was a very bullying type atmosphere. It is very obvious that there are serious issues that require careful attention and compromise, but it hard to see how that will take place with the rancor commanding the most attention. I still feel that the cut put forth on the table needs to be up for consideration, but with actual discussion. On another issue... Why would air conditioning be up for any consideration at this point and time? If closing a school is a real possibility, that might be one of the factors.
Tim Froehlig October 19, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Perhaps the reason for the anger is because of inaccurate statements like one board member made above. How can people solve any problems when there are board members who do not even fully understand the budget process??
Tim Froehlig October 19, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Keith, your statement, despite being a board member, is innacurate. The "Curriculum" fund - isn't a fund. It is the main education fund. The "curriculum" fund is simply a line item in the budget. The money can be spent on anything. Additionally, the district just posted the open position of a curriculum coordinator, which was reported here on patch.com, at a salary of 65,000 a year, just as an FYI everyone.
Terri October 19, 2012 at 05:15 PM
I think Keith was clear about curriculum being a part of the education fund. Like any household budget, "groceries" may include a number of line items. It is wise to keep your bread money for the month in reserve before buying your ice cream. He also provided much good information on why preserving this line item is critical relative to mandates.
Tim Froehlig October 19, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Also, I am not a lawyer, but I was just told by someone that if any two board members are on here speaking publicly or on behalf of the entire board about a topic such as this, it could potentially violate the Illinois Open Meetings Act. I am trying to confirm this. If anyone has the particular statute that discusses this, please let me know. Thank you.
Tim Froehlig October 19, 2012 at 05:19 PM
@Terri: He also spoke on behalf of the board, which he is completely out of line for doing. And no, he was not clear about that at all. The money can be spent on anything the board chooses, and he clearly from his own words does not seem aware of this.
Terri October 19, 2012 at 05:24 PM
"Lastly, this money is part of fund balance. Any deficits ultimately get paid out of fund balance." No good deed goes unpunished...
Sandra Sims October 19, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Tim: I was responding to HM's comment above that it is sad that the community has to try to solve the fiscal mess the board has wrought. I certainly was not criticizing more community input, in fact, I believe I posted "Thank God they are doing so". My point was that maybe business owners would have a more powerful voice, since obviously the majority of this board is not concerned with homeowners and their property taxes. If businesses are being put at risk, along with the jobs they provide, that may well increase the pressure to actually SOLVE this mess. Please try to read my posts before attacking me. Thank you.
Angela Sykora (Editor) October 23, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Editor's Note: To clarify, this is the definition of curriculum funds Chief Business Official Anna Kasprzyk and Supt. Ellen Correll confirmed to Patch. Curriculum funds are a line item within the Education Fund. "Funds are used for instruction, meaning, teaching of pupils or the interaction between teacher, assistants, aides and pupils. The only restrictions are on funds generated by grants and restrictions are grant specific."
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