Column

Styf: McHenry business news and a lot on personnel

It didn't take long, but McHenry Mayor Wayne Jett announced this week that he's talked to a butcher who has been in the butcher/restaurant business for four decades about filling the downtown spot next to the McHenry Indoor Theater.

That was in response to Jett's post about a week before, where many asked for a deli, butcher shop and salad bar downtown. They're still looking for more local investors, but have a few already. The group will be working on preliminary drawings, a business plan and operating agreements soon.

Speaking of McHenry, the school district (156) came to a few new agreements recently.

The last time the teachers came to a contract agreement, it was after a seven-day strike in 2015. This contract – a five-year deal – will call for an average contract-term increase of 3.6 percent, according to a statement from the district.

I'm still waiting for the full contract, which I requested and will share, to arrive, along with the new five-year full contract for D-156 Superintendent Ryan McTague, who will earn $184,000 this year and get raises of between 1.8 percent and 2.5 percent for the following four years.

All of this is why I think it's incredibly important that districts are transparent on what actions they are taking in terms of personnel, but putting it on their meeting agendas and then in their minutes. Also, the Open Meetings Act requires it.

But that doesn't mean your districts are actually being compliant. I picked a random $250,000 McHenry home that's currently for sale as an example.

That home has a $6,791 tax bill, with $3,182 going to grade school District 15, $1,561 going to District 156, $519 going to McHenry County, $426 to the city of McHenry and so on.

Those school districts spend the bulk of their funds on personnel, yet what you'll see on the agenda for each is nothing more than "Approval of Personnel Recommendations" and "Approve Personnel Report."

D-15 seems to put it on the minutes but not divulge it on the agenda. But D-156 posts its personnel information ahead of its meetings as part of its "posting" online.

This stuff is important and where the bulk of your property tax dollars are spent. You should demand better.

Which is why it's great to see Huntley 156 post its personnel report and contracts, like that of CFO Mark Altmayer, who got a new five-year deal at the board's June 15 meeting to make $184,000 this year and will amount to $204,000 by its completion.

Speaking of contracts, I did get clarification from Richmond-Burton on its dean/athletic director swap. Apparently, the actual vote to approve Pat Elder as the school's new dean came at the board's June meeting and the board minutes were incorrect.

I've requested details on the new deals for both Elder and new AD Kristi Martin to see what happened to the pay for each with the swap after the board previously voted to not renew Elder's contract as AD.

And, with all this talk of personnel, we have an announcement of our own.

Drew Zimmerman, currently a reporter with Shaw Media's Daily Chronicle in DeKalb, will start on Thursday as our new news reporter. He'll be covering Algonquin, Huntley and Marengo along with many state issues for us, and we're really excited about it.

• Northwest Herald Editor Jon Styf can be reached at jstyf@shawmedia.com or 815-526-4630.

Editor's note: This column was updated to reflect that McHenry District 156 does post its personnel information ahead of its meeting on the "posting" portion of its website.

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