Dr. Elizabeth Alvarez has been hired to as the new superintendent of District 91

Forest Park’s District 91 school board unanimously approved a new 4-year contract for Supt. Elizabeth Alvarez that extended her employment until the end of the 2025-2026 school year.

The contract was approved during the board’s Oct. 13 meeting. It includes annual salary increases and several perks, but it also ties any future contract extensions to improvements in students’ academic performance.

The board originally hired Alvarez during a Jan. 30, 2021, special meeting. In her short time as superintendent, she oversaw the closure of the Grant-White Intermediate Elementary School, 147 Circle Ave. and advocated for a more ambitious building restructuring plan that, for the time being, has been simply postponed. The plan called for Betsy Ross Elementary School, 1315 Marengo Ave., to be closed as well, and for Forest Park Middle School, 925 Beloit Ave., to become a grades 5-8 school.

While the Grant-White closure caused some concerns among parents, the early feedback from the newly consolidated Field-Stevenson Intermediate Elementary School, also at 925 Beloit Ave., was positive.

 During the Oct. 13 meeting, board President Kyra Tyler said she was “enthusiastically” voting in favor of the new contract.

“We’re thrilled, we’re happy to support you in this way, we’re very excited for our community and the progress that we’ve made and are continuing to make,” she told Alvarez. “Thank you for choosing to stick it out with us. We appreciate it.”

The superintendent responded that “she can’t say enough” about how grateful she was to have the job.

“I just want to thank the board for choosing me,” Alvarez said. “Also just being here in Forest Park, being around everyone — thank you. I’m excited for what’s to come and what’s been happening.”

Under the new contract, Alvarez’s salary is $190,800 a year, with 3% increases every school year. She will also get a $2,500 travel allowance and a $2,000 communication stipend to pay for her cellphone bills, with the understanding that she would primarily use those for job-related purposes. The contract also allows Alvarez to be reimbursed up to $3,000 for dues and membership fees in professional superintendent organizations. The board may pay her costs of attending professional meetings and continuing education opportunities, though the contract gives the board a right to limit those payments. The board may pay for Alvarez to attend one state and/or one national professional convention a year, with payments approved by the board on a case-by-case basis. 

Alvarez is getting 23 vacation days a year, and the district agreed to pay her medical and term life insurance premiums. The district will also pay her share of the contributions to the Illinois Teacher Retirement Fund and the Teachers Health Insurance Security fund, which, as a former teacher, Alverez is entitled to receive retirement benefits from. 

The contract lays out her duties and responsibilities. Most notably, it requires her to work with the district administrative team to evaluate student performance, review the curriculum and instructional services and report the results to the board every year. Alvarez and the board must then “develop additional student performance and academic improvement goals” no later than Sept. 1 of each year. It also includes the legal language tying any future contract extensions to the district meeting those goals.