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D-155 extends superintendent's contract

CRYSTAL LAKE – After agreeing to extend superintendent Johnnie Thomas' contract in February, Community High School District 155 Board members have finalized financial terms to make the deal official.

Thomas, who earned a base salary of $182,000 last year in his first as head of the district, is now set to make $184,730 in 2014-15 with a 1.5 percent increase in each following year through 2017-18.

The contract also comes with performance bonuses if Thomas is able to achieve goals set for the district each year. The payments, starting at up to $14,000 in 2014-15, would increase $2,000 each year up to a potential $20,000 performance bonus in 2017-18.

The eight ongoing goals include increasing advanced placement courses and success; implementing programs to help social-emotional functioning at each school; creating sound fiscal plans; and improving external and internal communications among other objectives.

Board members also will make a nonelective 5 percent employer contribution each contract year toward Thomas' retirement fund.

District 155 already has hit high marks under Thomas, boasting the best high school graduation rate in McHenry County in 2013-14.

The process of the contract extension has been a point of contention between administration and the teachers' union, which filed an Open Meetings Act violation complaint with the Illinois Attorney General.

Union leaders took issue with a February board meeting where District 155 board members went into closed session for a second time at 9:45 p.m. before returning to open session at 10:15 p.m. to approve Thomas’ recommendation to budget increases for administrative salaries in 2014-15 and 2015-16. The vote received unanimous approval.

The board then returned to closed session before returning again to open session at 10:40 p.m. when it approved a three-year extension on Thomas’ contract subject to financial terms. That vote was also unanimous.

Because no financial terms were included in the action, the district contends no violation occurred. Board members approved financial terms in open session after a closed session at the June meeting.

The Open Meetings Act violation is still pending. Multiple calls to board president Ted Wagner were not returned.

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