District 41 superintendent's pay boost raises some eyebrows

  • Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 Superintendent Paul Gordon is due to receive an 8 percent salary increase and a $10,000 performance bonus.

      Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 Superintendent Paul Gordon is due to receive an 8 percent salary increase and a $10,000 performance bonus. Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer, July 2013

 
 
Updated 5/5/2015 8:28 AM

Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 Superintendent Paul Gordon is due to receive an 8 percent raise and an additional $10,000 performance bonus, even as some parents question why he doesn't have an up-to-date state educator license.

Gordon, hired by the school board in 2013, was awarded a 3 percent merit increase and a 5 percent increase to align his salary to surrounding districts, according to a personnel action approved last week by the board.

 

His new base salary of $216,918 takes effect July 1 and his current contract with the district expires a year later.

Meanwhile, some parents have expressed concern because Gordon is shown as "deficient" in his professional educator license, according to an online Illinois State Board of Education educator licensure database. Gordon put in an application for that license last July.

Gordon does have a provisional educator license, issued July 1, 2013, which is due to expire June 30.

Bruce Currie, a parent of two children in District 41, brought the licensing issue to the school board's attention. A teacher in Joliet School District 86, Currie was doing a search on the state website for his own credentials before he decided to type in Gordon's name.

"It's never been explained to the public and that is disconcerting," Currie said. "I'm a teacher. I can't teach without a license."

District 41 officials say Gordon had all the proper certifications when he was hired from a school district in Colorado, but he has had to complete additional requirements in Illinois since the two states do not share reciprocity.

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"He is completely certified," said board member Erica Nelson. "We knew this when we ran a national search two years ago, that should the district decide to hire an out-of-state superintendent, that the state of Illinois has very little if any reciprocity with other states."

"We did not hire a superintendent that wasn't qualified, if that's the question from these parents."

Outgoing board President John Kenwood, who was recently elected to a seat on the Glen Ellyn village board, said Gordon applied for a provisional license when he was hired in Illinois, and since then has been working to get the full Illinois certification.

"From our conversations with him, he has cured those deficiencies," Kenwood said. "He is now in the process of applying for a professional educator license for Illinois. He needs to fill out the paperwork and show he's cured the deficiencies."

Kenwood said he didn't know the particulars of Gordon's deficiencies, but it likely involved additional coursework.

At last week's board meeting, Kenwood was the lone board member to vote against the consent agenda -- a listing usually reserved for routine items of business. But in this case, Gordon's raise was included in the consent agenda, under the human resources personnel report.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Kenwood wouldn't say whether he was voting against the superintendent's bonus when he voted against the entire consent agenda.

"I'm not going to get into the specifics of consent," Kenwood said. "There were some things I didn't agree with."

Kenwood said the board met with Gordon twice behind closed doors to discuss the pay increases, which he received upon meeting goals in his performance-based contract.

Those goals include presenting a facilities plan for the district, and a review of curriculum, instructional approaches, staffing and financial resources.

"The board is very supportive of Paul and what he's done and his passion and his involvement with the district," Kenwood said. "He's brought obviously another perspective to what we're doing and what's going on. The board approved his bonus and compensation -- it's a signal the board approves of the job he is doing and they want him to continue doing."

But two incoming board members, Stephanie Clark and Kurt Buchholz, say they wouldn't have approved the pay raise. Clark and Buchholz ran as a slate opposed to many of the district's initiatives.

"It's been 'doom and gloom' and 'we're gonna lose funding' for months, and now we give our superintendent already making $205,000 (a pay increase)?" Clark said. "It seems completely irresponsible and unnecessary."

"They hid it in the consent agenda," said Buchholz. "To put it in there certainly seemed like they were pulling a fast one."

Clark and Buchholz were to take their seats on the board Monday night, and Nelson was to be sworn in to another term.

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