Hoping to shut down the "revolving door" of Palatine Township Elementary District 15 superintendents who have come and gone in recent years, the board has approved a five-year deal for its leader.
Superintendent Scott Thompson's new contract, made official at Wednesday's board meeting, runs through the 2016-17 school year. It includes a 1.5 percent salary increase this year to about $224,000, and future adjustments will be decided annually based on a performance evaluation.
"I'm really honored that the board has the confidence in me to do this," Thompson said. "I feel good about what we're trying to do here."
The agreement also contains a termination clause that would prevent some of the controversy over past deals.
Thompson predecessor Dan Lukich, now the superintendent of a much smaller school district in Virginia's Lancaster County, received $185,000 severance in a separation agreement after the board cited a difference in philosophies. Before him, some officials were critical of a contract amendment that gave Robert McKanna a raise as incentive to retire early.
Should the board decide to part ways with Thompson early, the maximum liability for District 15 would be to pay eight months' salary.
"In many agreements you have to pay for the balance of the contract," board President Tim Millar said.
As was the case in Thompson's former contract, District 15 isn't contributing to the Teachers' Retirement System on his behalf. It added the roughly $22,000 to his base salary instead, which could potentially save the district money if the state increases contribution requirements.
Millar pointed to Thompson's efforts to improve communication and said District 15 is in a much better position now -- especially financially -- compared to the past few years. He also lauded the superintendent for agreeing to the "modest" salary bump and for freezing his pay last year.
"We just wanted to make a statement to the community that we support his work," Millar said. "Things are much smoother than they've been in the past."