In the meantime, the Chronicle reports:
ST. CHARLES – St. Charles parent Mary Kennedy on Monday criticized school board members for ratifying an amendment to departing Superintendent Barbara Erwin’s contract.“Vote for the taxpayers, not the relationship you might have with Erwin,” Kennedy said.
" Thank you Mary Kennedy for speaking up for the taxpayers of this school district. Again, we have allowed people outside of the legal system (the school board) to make decisions that they clearly are not qualified to do, at the expense of the students of this district. This is wrong and anyone involved who approves of this "good old boys mentality" needs to step down and bring back integrity and ethics back to a district that clearly runs on closed door secret agreements. "
To the Editor:Re: The June 7 Kane County Chronicle editorial “D-303 needs to end issue now.
Why has the St. Charles School Board had such a hard time deciding what to do with the 2005 amendment to Superintendent Barb Erwin’s contract?You know, the one that might have violated the Open Meetings Act when Erwin, her secretary and school board president Mary Jo Knipp apparently signed it without public board approval?
Is it the outrageous terms – 85 sick days a year for four years?Those 340 sick days (two years retirement credit) set Erwin up to only have to work in Illinois for three years to collect full retirement.Is it the timing?
Erwin was here just nine months before asking for those terms in April 2005.
Supporters Knipp and Ginny Waller had just been voted out of office and John Reichling was leaving because he was going to work for District 303. Knipp also now works for the district.
The legal loophole that allowed her to collect 85 sick days was closing in June, so Erwin had to act fast.Knowing the new board wouldn’t back those terms, Knipp signed the contract just two weeks before they were seated.Was not voting in public really an “oversight” as current school board president Kathy Hewell says?
Thanks to board member Carla Ray’s integrity, we know that, according to the tape of that closed session meeting, there was apparently a “willful violation” of the Open Meetings Act.
Would that board have defended those terms in public?
Hewell has said that she’s always felt funny about the fact that administrator’s exact salaries are public information.District 303 is hiding Erwin’s contract, but Erwin said she’s not.
Wrong. I asked her - no contract.
Would they have made those terms public?No way.Now what?Aren’t there stiff penalties now for giving more than 15 sick days?She can’t get them all, anyway and our new superintendent is coming July 1. Go to www.theprincipal.blogspot.com (search “Erwin”). Watchdog groups in Kentucky are studying us and asking their state to reconsider.
Finally, what about her staying until July 13? Her contract says that she gets $195,000 for 260 days - that’s $750 a day. There’s 4 to 5 weeks vacation payable “at the beginning of each school year” (July 1) and a $12,000 annuity. Over $3,000 a day plus the car and cell phone allowance, term life policy, annual physical, professional fees and travel allowance?
She needs to go, and we need to move on.
Here's a late addition from the St Charles Republican.
..."The board received a letter from the state’s attorney asking for documents regarding board discussion on the amendment. Ray asked the board to make public all documents provided to the State’s Attorney.
Hewell said, to her knowledge, the only nonpublic document turned over to the State’s Attorney was the audio tape Ray said indicated the willful violation.
The board can vote to open confidential documents but Hewell said the board has not discussed that option and has no plans to do so.
State’s Attorney John Barsanti said last week that normally his office would simply send warning letters to violating bodies asking them to revote in open session. But, if his office finds a willful violation, the contract could be nullified, the consequences of which remain unclear.
“I don’t know that I would be satisfied with a ratification,” Barsanti said.