As expected, Palatine Township Elementary District 15 removed the "interim" tag from Superintendent Scott Thompson's title at a special meeting Tuesday and awarded him with a contract keeping him around through the 2012-13 school year.
More surprising was the relatively modest $198,000 base salary Thompson will be paid a lesser amount than what each of the 12,000-student district's last three leaders made.
"The salary that they're paying me is very reasonable compared to the surrounding school districts," Thompson said. "I think this is a fabulous organization and to be selected to lead it is really an honor."
He believes his compensation, which is effective immediately and worth nearly $263,000 including all insurance, retirement contributions and other benefits, ranks seventh of the nine elementary districts that feed into Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 and Northwest Suburban High School District 214.
Also missing from the deal are perks former Superintendent Dan Lukich enjoyed before he was forced to resign a year early, including eligibility for a $10,000 performance bonus. Nor does Thompson's contract call for the $6,000 car allowance Lukich received; in fact, he'll be reimbursed only for mileage accumulated in his official duties. He also gets 22 paid vacation days three fewer than Lukich.
However, a clause states the school board can raise his salary after the current school year based on satisfying yet-to-be-determined performance objectives.
Board President Gerald Chapman said he believes the compensation to be fair on both sides, and he lauded Thompson's first five months on the job for his positive leadership and commitment to continuous improvement.
Though he voiced support for Thompson, board member Tim Millar, who opposed the interim contract in July because he felt existing staff could fulfill Lukich's duties for a year, also cast the sole opposition vote Tuesday. He said replacing the interim deal, worth about $146,000 including contributions to the Teachers Retirement System, costs District 15 an additional $68,000 when the new deal is prorated to seven months.
"I find this agreement offensive to the taxpayers," he said. "It's quite a bad deal."
Thompson responded that the expectations and responsibilities change with permanent status. He also said it was necessary to have a decision made now about his future at District 15 to preclude him from job hunting.