CRYSTAL LAKE – Johnnie Thomas will be the superintendent of Crystal Lake-based Community High School District 155 through school year 2019-20 after an extension and a number of other contract changes were approved with a split vote Tuesday night.
After a 4-3 vote, two years were tacked on to Thomas’ contract, which originally went through 2017-18. Encompassed in the board motion were three additional items: the elimination of the performance bonus package; 2 percent annual increases starting in 2016-17, up from the 1.5 percent he has received thus far; and 7.5 more reimbursable vacation days, or up to 12.5 total.
An earlier 6-1 vote acknowledged that the superintendent had met his performance goals after an annual board evaluation was done. Member Adam Guss voted in dissension and was not immediately available for comment Wednesday on the matter.
Guss, Rosemary Kurtz and Amy Blazier voted against the extension and three changes; Ann Somers, Dave Secrest, Gary Oberg and Board President Ted Wagner voted in support. Kurtz noted that the original request was for an extension to 2021.
“I believe we still have time to make a decision like this,” Guss said during Tuesday’s meeting. “I don’t think that it has to be done right now.”
Blazier agreed, saying she was not ready to make a decision on an extension, but also said to Thomas, “It’s nothing that you haven’t done.”
Thomas said afterward his last contract extension was approved in the same time frame, a couple years before the existing contract ended, and that the purpose was “to ensure that there’s some continuity in leadership moving forward.”
“We brought [Thomas] into the district at an absolute difficult, difficult time in union negotiations, with economic situations, and he handled things terrific,” Wagner said. “And I have to tell you, it’s been a pleasure working with you, Dr. Thomas.”
Thomas said his move to prompt the board to eliminate his performance bonus package was to avoid the issues and concerns that have ensued whenever the bonus has been up for discussion.
“The board pays me well to do the job that I’m doing, and I’m here for kids, so if that was an issue that causes them any dilemma, I thought it best to just eliminate it,” Thomas said.
Under his contract last year, he received the maximum $14,000 bonus after his evaluation and this year was up for a possible $16,000. The maximum bonus amount before this change increased by $2,000 with each consecutive year. His base salary was set at $184,730 a year before annual increases.
Somers called the elimination of the bonuses a “big thing,” saying Thomas was giving up “$16,000 that he was really guaranteed as long as he met his goals.”
The board last week heard from a few residents who questioned whether Thomas was deserving of a bonus, and a few people brought up the Crystal Lake South High School bleachers debacle. One person Tuesday voiced similar concerns during the public comment portion.