A year into job, District 21 superintendent gets contract extension

  • Michael Connolly

    Michael Connolly

Updated 7/22/2019 10:30 PM

A year into his tenure as Wheeling Township Elementary District 21 superintendent, Michael Connolly has received a new five-year contract to see through several initiatives already underway, school board members say.

Connolly, hired at a base salary of $197,500, will get annual guaranteed 2% raises and is eligible for additional 3% annual performance bonuses under his new employment agreement, which was unanimously approved by the school board Thursday.


Board President Phil Pritzker on Monday said the board and superintendent saw the past year as a "transition year" after the retirement of Kate Hyland, who spent six years leading District 21.

After the first 12 months, Pritzker said, board members were happy with Connolly's job performance, and at the same time, District 21 is "where he wants to be."

"We want someone that's going to be committed for a good solid amount of time," Pritzker said.

The district is at the advent of a $69 million, four-year capital improvement plan that was authorized by referendum last November. The bulk of that work -- $35 million of it -- is being done this summer to tighten security at building entrances and install air conditioning at all 13 schools.

Next summer, the district plans to prepare physical spaces to provide full-day kindergarten at all elementary buildings as soon as the 2020-21 school year.

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Besides overseeing the referendum projects, Connolly is tasked with beginning a strategic planning process in September that will set the course for the district during the next five or more years, Pritzker said.

He said board members have also been pleased with the way Connolly has reached out to the community, parents, staff and other government officials to try to improve the district's communication efforts.

Connolly, who has spent 21 years in the education field, was superintendent in Hanover Park-based Keeneyville Elementary District 20 for seven years before he arrived at District 21.

The school district still hasn't released a copy of Connolly's new five-year contract, which replaces his original three-year deal inked in December 2017.

Pritzker says the new deal is retroactive to July 1 and expires June 30, 2024.

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