Libertyville District 70 grants superintendent's request for paid leave
As of Tuesday, outgoing Libertyville Elementary District 70 Superintendent Matt Barbini is on paid leave of absence for the remainder of his contract through the end of June.
Barbini on Feb. 23 asked for the paid leave "to focus on the next chapter of my career and allow my successor the opportunity to begin their transition as soon as possible."
The request was approved unanimously by the school board Monday, effective March 1. Barbini was earning a base annual salary of $202,966.
Before the vote, school board President Wendy Schilling said the district was obligated to honor the request, but provided no detail.
"Dr. Barbini is under contract," Schilling said after the public comment portion of the meeting and before the board vote.
Two speakers said looking for another job was not a compelling reason for the board to approve Barbini's leave request.
"Those are (the) terms of his contract. We do not want to be the district where we do not follow the law and that we do not follow the contract," Schilling said.
She said the board discussed the request in closed session "with respect to his contractual obligations, as well as our obligations to him."
In October, Barbini withdrew his request for the school board to consider extending his contract after its 3-year term. He said he wanted to pursue "professional opportunities" outside District 70 but didn't elaborate.
He continued as superintendent as the board underwent an extensive search for a replacement, which is nearing its conclusion.
During his tenure, Barbini became a lightning rod for criticism for policies involving in-person learning, mask wearing and other pandemic-related issues.
"This has not been an easy time for District 70 and I do not relish the separation with Dr. Barbini in this way," Schilling said.
Schilling thanked Barbini for introducing initiatives, such as a long-range financial and deferred maintenance plan, an integrated preschool program, and refocusing the summer school program to academics.
"You may not agree with all his policies and his decisions but he pushed forward many initiatives that are gong to benefit this district long-range," she said.
She added, that while some may not agreed with his decisions in terms of COVID, everyone was a novice on dealing with it.
"Nobody knew exactly what to do. Everybody struggled with their decisions," she said.
Erik Youngman, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment was appointed interim superintendent.
Schilling said the board is negotiating with a superintendent candidate and hopes to have that person "sitting at this table in the very near future."