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The Proviso school board rejected a proposal by Supt. Collins-Hart to hire an in-house attorney and legal secretary. The plan, which budgeted up to $120,000 in salary and $20,000 in benefits for an in-house attorney, and $40,000/$20,000 for a secretary.

The D209 Financial Oversight Panel had recommended moving to an in-house attorney to consolidate legal bills and perform the work of a hearing officer. Currently, both are outsourced by the district. D209 paid $277,421 last year to the Del Galdo Law Group, as well as the following payments to hearing officers: $50,834 to Brian Carey and $45,500 to Michael Castaldo Jr., according to the government watchdog website www.openthebooks.com.

“I would argue that if they redid how they got those services, it would cost them half of that,” said Financial Oversight Panel Chairman James Popernik.

But Vice President Dan Adams and Welch both argued that the legal services provided by Del Galdo and district lawyer Michael DiBartolo were “worth the money.” The board discussed asking the two hearing officers, Castaldo and Carey, to negotiate billing by the hour instead of regular monthly payments of $3,500. Welch and Adams both voted against the proposal, as did Readith Ester, Brian Cross and Francine Harrell. Board members Kevin McDermott and Theresa Kelly voted for the proposal.