The Proviso Township High School District 209 Board of Education recently voted against a series of administrative hires and promotions recommended by Superintendent Jesse Rodriguez, which prompted a two-sided debate among board members about administrative salaries and the process for hiring and promoting administrators.
The board voted 4-3 against hiring Anthony Brazouski as assistant superintendent of human resources. Brazouski, an administrator from Wisconsin, was supposed to replace Dr. Kim Echols, whose resignation is effective July 1.
Board President Theresa Kelly, along with members Amanda Grant, Sam Valtierrez and Della Patterson, voted against the hire while Claudia Medina, Ned Wagner and Rodney Alexander all voted for it.
Dissenting board members expressed concerns about the process by which Brazouski was selected. A hiring committee made up of union representatives and administrators vetted candidates.
Rodriguez said Brazouski was the top candidate for the position. However, one of the committee members remarked at the school board meeting that Brazouski had not been the most qualified candidate, based on a four-part scoring system.
Kelly, Grant, Valtierrez and Patterson also voted against the superintendent’s recommendations for two non-certified staff positions that would have entailed pay raises.
Rob Daniels, a program analyst, would have been reclassified as a digital media specialist — a move that would have resulted in a salary increase from $50,000 to $55,000 a year, according to district data.
Cynthia Moreno, the district’s communications coordinator, would have been named director of communications and community outreach, which would have come with an increase in salary from $68,000 a year to $105,000 a year.
Rodriguez said the new positions were consistent with a comprehensive communication strategy that would accompany the launch of the district’s new website.
Medina, Wagner and Alexander all argued that the board should trust the superintendent’s employment recommendations, with Medina saying that the process “was handled with high professionality.”
The four board members who voted the moves down, however, argued that the pay raises should be reconsidered in light of the district having made cuts in other areas, such as instruction. They also said that the positions should have been posted publicly in order to attract other candidates within the district.
Medina and Wagner said that the district is spending $60,000 less in administrative salaries than it spent last year and that, since the positions are considered non-certified staff, the superintendent is not required to post them.
Patterson suggested that the $60,000 cost savings was not really a savings, since the district removed the social studies chair.
“You just moved somebody out of the way and put somebody else in,” Patterson said, adding that she was told that the district had no money to implement an eight-period day.
“Now, all of a sudden, we have this influx of money,” she said.
The three members in support of the staff restructuring, in addition to Rodriguez himself, suggested that voting against the superintendent’s recommendations signals that the district’s top administrator doesn’t have the power restructure his own central office.
Board members voted unanimously for Greta Mitchell-Williams to replace Diane Deckert as director of curriculum, assessment and program evaluation. In addition, Kelly split with Patterson, Valtierrez and Grant, which allowed Rajeska Jackson, a district grants specialist, to be promoted to the office of academics and family services by a 4-3 vote.
Kelly’s vote outraged Alexander, who claimed that the board president was contradicting herself by voting for Jackson even though her position had not been posted, which was the reason why Kelly said she was voting against Moreno’s and Daniels’ promotions.