With the state’s oversight, the Proviso Township high schools are trimming bonuses and other payouts that had become routine incentives in employment contracts for new administrators.

A new template for such contracts would eliminate monthly travel allowances and lavish bonuses that have been paid in the past. Health care premiums, tuition reimbursements and unused vacation time would also be handled differently. The effort is part of a larger strategy to improve the district’s financial standing and is being guided by a state-assembled panel that has been given total control over District 209’s budget.

Nikita Johnson, the district’s business manager, said Proviso has used a contract template in the past, but there are a number of significant changes in the works.

Comparatively, a 2006 contract awarded to former superintendent Stan Fields included a performance bonus of $25,000 and a monthly stipend of $600 for vehicle expenses. With the board’s approval, Fields could roll unused vacation time into the next year or trade it for cash. In new contracts, according to the template, no bonuses whatsoever would be offered. There would also be no monthly stipend. Vacation time would not rollover and there is no buyout for unused time.

In the area of tuition reimbursement, up to 75 percent of the costs would be covered if the administrator receives top marks. Only half the tuition would be paid by the district for a B grade, and lesser scores or unfinished courses would not be covered. If the employee leaves the district within three years of having their tuition paid, the money must be returned.

In October 2006, former assistant superintendent Robert Libka resigned after spending more than $10,000 on tuition and books at Western Illinois University just eight months earlier. Libka wrote those checks against the district’s account in February 2006. A month later he asked the board for permission to do so – and it was approved.

According to language in the new contract template, nothing would be paid without prior approval from the superintendent.