Taxpayer-funded approval for building improvements is in the books, and now administrators in Diamond Lake Elementary District 76 also have received a show of support with contract extensions.
Heading the list is Superintendent Bhavna Sharma-Lewis, who was retained in a five-year deal that begins July 1 and runs through June 30, 2022. Her original contract was to have expired at the end of the next school year.
One-year contracts for eight other administrators, including some hand-picked by Sharma-Lewis, also were approved this week by the school board.
Board President Lisa Yaffe said the timing of a successful $11.4 million referendum and the administrative moves was coincidental. The board had been considering wrapping up Sharma-Lewis well before Election Day, and administrator contracts are typically considered this time of year, she added.
"They're independent," she said. "We would have done the same contracts had we not passed a referendum."
Under the new contract, Sharma-Lewis receives a base salary of $194,670 with annual raises of 3 percent or the amount of the Consumer Price Index, whichever is greater. Associate Superintendent Stephen Juracka is the highest paid among the other administrators with a base salary of $135,200.
"We have some positive momentum now. We've had this team together for two years. The climate is good," Yaffe said.
Sharma-Lewis came from Riverside District 96. In her two years at Diamond Lake, the district has approved a teacher contract, instituted a new performance evaluation system for teachers, established a performance-based process for administrators, developed a new learning framework for K-8 students and expanded the dual language program to sixth grade.
"It is a superintendent's dream to work in a district where the board of education puts students first, has faith and confidence in their leaders and upholds high expectation and standards for teaching and learning," Sharma-Lewis said.
Developing a cohesive teaching and learning framework with balanced assessments and standards-based reporting and creating a comprehensive K-8 dual language program are on the to-do list, she said.
So is work at all three schools, including improved safety and security, STEAM learning spaces, and library and media centers, she added.
The district will establish a schedule for critical projects to begin this summer, focusing on safety and security upgrades, said Eric Rogers, director of finance and operations.
"We will prioritize our initial projects on what most impacts students and staff on a daily basis," he said. HVAC upgrades, restroom renovations, libraries, gyms and roofing repair and replacement will follow in the next two to three years, he added.