No raise or contract extension for Dist. 59 superintendent

Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59 Superintendent Art Fessler, who has overseen the implementation of a controversial curriculum, won't get a raise or contract extension, officials announced Wednesday.

Fessler, hired in 2013, is in the middle of a five-year contract that doesn't guarantee automatic raises in the final three years, though he is eligible for pay bumps following annual evaluations with the board. The deal expires June 30, 2021.

Board President Janice Krinsky said Wednesday school board members decided to keep his $292,908 base salary unchanged and not extend his deal past 2021 as a result of discussions during his evaluation. Board members talked about Fessler's job performance during four closed-door meetings in March and April.

"The purpose of his evaluation was to assess his performance, and the district's progress, against the strategic plan and the superintendent goals listed in his contract," Krinsky said in a statement.

In an interview, Krinsky declined to detail the closed-door discussions on what board members said they like or don't like about Fessler's performance. She also wouldn't say if some board members favored giving him a raise and extension and others didn't, but she indicated the board came to an agreement after only two meetings.

Krinsky said it would be "highly unlikely" the board would agree to a raise or extension in the next several months because those decisions are tied to the annual evaluation process, which usually takes place in March.

Fessler has come under fire by some parents and community members over his implementation of a curriculum that emphasizes students' learning experiences over more traditional textbook approaches. While defending his overall vision, Fessler also established a 75-person curriculum committee in February to identify gaps and strengthen academic areas.

As the district nears the end of its five-year strategic plan - which has goals that mirror those in Fessler's contract - the board plans to start a new strategic planning process. Board members recently agreed to use Consortium for Educational Change to facilitate the process starting next school year.

"It will create a road map for the superintendent and district for the work that gets done over the next two to three or five years," Krinsky said.

Board members met for a final time last Monday to review a write-up by Krinsky and board Vice President Karen Osmanski that evaluates Fessler on all components of his job, including academics, strategic planning, finance, human resources and facilities. They will review the document with Fessler in person Friday.

Krinsky previously said if the board were to give Fessler a raise or extension, it would be at the Monday, April 29, meeting before the old board adjourns and three newly elected members are sworn in. Because there is no change to Fessler's contract, no vote will take place Monday, Krinsky said.

Lame-duck District 59 board could give raise, contract extension to Fessler

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