Continuity key for District 76 superintendent contract extension
The top administrator in Diamond Lake Elementary District 76 has received a vote of confidence and a new contract that extends her stay until the end of the 2022-23 school year.
Superintendent Bhavna Sharma-Lewis had four years left on her contract, but the school board recently replaced it with a new five-year pact that effectively adds a year.
Besides demonstrating satisfaction with her performance, locking up Sharma-Lewis for another year will provide continuity as the district continues several initiatives, including honing a five-year strategic plan and continuing with voter-approved building upgrades, according to board President Lisa Yaffe.
"We are making progress toward our goals; we have a good administrative team in place and have continuity," Yaffe said.
One focus has been more effective analysis and management of data to assist in instruction. The future closing of Fairhaven School, one of the three in the district, and distribution of its kindergarten and pre-K students to the remaining buildings also is a priority, she added.
"It's a vote of confidence, and we also are supportive of the move of three schools in three buildings to three schools in two buildings and want to have Bhavna oversee that transition," Yaffe said.
The performance-based agreement approved Aug. 21 comes with a base salary of $200,518 and annual increases of 3 percent or the amount of the Consumer Price Index, whichever is greater. Sharma-Lewis made $189,000 in 2015-16, her first year with the district.
She also will be eligible for a "discretionary performance bonus" of up to 6 percent of the prior year's salary, but that is optional on the part of the school board.
"Philosophically, we have high expectations for the salary, and for the performance bonus, you have to go above and beyond," Yaffe said.
According the contract, the district also will: contribute $16,000 annually on her behalf to an annuity, pay 9 percent of her salary to the Illinois Teachers' Retirement System and pay 1.5 percent to the Teacher Health Insurance Security Fund. Sharma-Lewis is responsible for medical, dental and other health insurance costs.
The contract also calls for 25 vacation days, winter and spring breaks totaling 15 or 16 days, and 13 sick days per year.
"I appreciate the vote of confidence but it goes both ways," Sharma-Lewis said. "I think the board has a clear direction and vision of how they want the district to be."
Ongoing building upgrades, including new restroom facilities, have provided a "refreshing new look," said Sharma-Lewis. New libraries and cafeterias at Diamond Lake School and West Oak Middle School, as well as the large gym and front office are planned for next year, she said.
"Kids feel a sense of pride. There's a different excitement and energy than in the past." she said. Sharma-Lewis added the teachers and community members feel valued and appreciated.
PTO Treasurer Margaret Kwon said Sharma-Lewis knows parents and students by name, is engaged and attends various PTO-hosted functions, school events and fundraisers.