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OK new contract for school chief : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
OK new contract for school chief
Board votes 6-1 to give Wendt four additional years

by Lyle R. Rolfe


The Oswego School District Board voted 6-1 Monday evening to approve a new employment contract for Superintendent Dr. Matthew Wendt.

Board Member Ali Swanson cast the lone negative vote on the motion, while board member Greg O'Neil hesitated for some time before casting a favorable vote.

O'Neil said after the meeting he had considered voting "no" on the motion.

Board members met with Wendt for nearly an hour in closed session before their regular board meeting to discuss the new contract.

Board President Bill Walsh said the extension was the idea of the board, not Wendt.

Wendt's original three-year contract with the district would have expired on July 1 of 2015.

Walsh said the original contract is now considered void and has been replaced by the new five-year contract that will go through July 1, 2019.

When asked about her vote, Swanson said, "I just didn't like some things in the contract. I don't have to agree. All I have to do is support the board."

O'Neil said he told fellow board members in the closed session he did not think he would vote for it.

"I just didn't think that long a term benefited the school district or the community because at three years, we could have re-evaluated where we were at. In the closed session I said I'd vote for the compensation and all that, but I needed a compromise on the time. I tried to get a compromise but couldn't even get a year. I would have gone for that," he said, adding, "It was not about (Wendt); it was the length of the contract."

Swanson then acknowledged she also was opposed to the length of the contract, but would not say what her other objections were.

With three board members up for re-election next year and the other four in 2017, all seven could be replaced with a new board by the time Wendt's contract expires.

After the vote, Walsh said the board was "proud to approve a new five-year contract with Dr. Wendt," adding that it is a performance-based contract.

He said the commitment to Wendt "insures that the direction and path that the district is on, will continue to move forward to improve and strengthen the district for the community's current and future students."

Walsh continued by saying that this was "a representation of the fantastic work that not just you but your entire staff, teachers, and students have performed over the last two years. So congratulations."

Wendt thanked Walsh and the board for their support and said his staff is keeping busy working on the right things. He said they are better today than six months and a year ago and hoped that the board would feel even better about the district a year from now.

He also commended his administrators, primarily Dr. Paul O'Malley, assistant superintendent; Dr. John Sparlin, administrative services assistant superintendent; and Dr. Judith Minor, teaching and learning assistant superintendent.

He said the entire district team is the best one he has ever worked with, and noted that next year will be the 25th anniversary of his entering the education field as a teacher.

"I look forward to working with and for you for a long, long time," he said.

Base salary unchanged;
pact allows for bonuses

Walsh said Wendt's base salary remains the same as in the original contract--$225,000 annually. But his increase or bonus for the first year would be $27,500, provided he accomplished the goals outlined in the new contract. Wendt would be paid a percentage of the total bonus for each goal he accomplishes to the board's satisfaction.

Wendt's bonus this year was $22,500, Walsh said.

He said Wendt's performance must be reviewed by the board on Feb. 1 of each year by state law. But any salary increase would not become effective until July 1 of each year.

Walsh said they extended the contract to 2019 because of the time it will take Wendt to accomplish the proposed improvements to the district. They include stability, continuity, and a consistent vision as they move forward.

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