After contentious reopening debate, District 25 schools boss gets contract extension
After a contentious schools reopening debate and one of the most divisive school board elections in Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 history, Superintendent Lori Bein has received a vote of confidence to remain at the helm of the district for at least three more years.
Bein's new contract, inked after a 6-0 board vote last week, will keep the veteran educator in the top administrative post through June 30, 2024. It would mark a full decade in the Arlington Heights-based K-8 district since she arrived from Roselle Elementary District 12 in 2014.
Despite protests and a petition that called for her ouster, Bein's future with the district gained more clarity after the April 6 election, when her harshest critics weren't among the top vote-getters.
And though two board incumbents who won may have disagreed with Bein's more cautious reopening recommendations, they still gave her high marks overall.
One of those board members, Gina Faso, said Bein delivered for the district while dealing with the "stressors and pressures" of the pandemic.
"I think you have definitely persevered with style and grace and done that which was asked, demanded and requested of you by the staff, the administration, the board, the community and the students," Faso told Bein at the recent board meeting.
"I give you tremendous honor and respect over what you were still able to accomplish for this school district, and I am very much looking forward to what you and your staff can do for this district in light of hopefully what is now the end of the tumultuous side of the pandemic."
Brian Cerniglia, the current board vice president who was one of the primary defenders of Bein's slower reopening approach, praised the superintendent's job performance, and expressed hope she would remain in the district until retirement.
"There were times as a (board) president and as a board member that I was disgusted in what I read and heard said to you," Cerniglia said.
"And you persevered through all of it. We challenged you and questioned you as a board -- I would argue, as an individual -- more so than we should have. But putting that aside, this was an extremely unprecedented and stressful year, and you acted and led us commendably."
Bein's old $221,755-a-year contract, due to expire in June 2022, was replaced with a new agreement that's retroactive to July 1, 2020. As such, it comes with a raise that includes payment for 10 unused vacation days, for a total base salary of $230,284.
For the 2021-22 school year, Bein will get a 6% raise, to $244,101.
She's then scheduled to get 3% raises in each of the following two years and would be eligible for additional raises based on performance review ratings by the school board: an additional 2% bonus for "excellent" and 1% for "proficient." That's on top of another performance bonus of between 1% and 2% if she meets annual goals, according to the agreement.
Bein also gets an annual $7,684 stipend and $500 monthly automobile stipend, and the district picks up her contributions to the Teachers' Retirement System and Teachers' Health Insurance Security fund.
Upon her retirement, the contract calls for Bein to receive a $15,000 lump-sum payment.