The last few years have been taxing for the Maine Township high schools — in particular for Superintendent Ken Wallace, who’s been forced to put out one fire after another since taking the post in 2009.
On top of inheriting a budget crisis that resulted in $15 million in cuts (including teacher and staff layoffs), Wallace has seen District 207 get socked with discrimination charges by a fired teacher.
The Cook County state’s attorney’s office has also investigated the high schools more than once in his short tenure, most recently when a hazing scandal unfolded last year.
And, yet, Wallace — with support from his school board bosses — is still up to the challenges of the job.
In exchange for his loyalty, District 207 officials agreed to extend the top administrator’s contract and guarantee future pay raises for at least more five years.
The new agreement, effective through June 30, 2019, awards Wallace an annual salary bump of 1.5 percent. His yearly earnings starting next July will be $210,000.
In addition to earning a base salary, the superintendent, like all District 207 administrators, is eligible for merit pay.
A positive year-end evaluation and the achievement of annual target goals could earn him an additional $26,000, an amount scheduled to increase by $1,000 each year into the contract.
Officials may also choose to give a second lump sum up to $25,000 for having “attained any of the stretch goals and rendered extraordinary service,” the contract states.
Documents obtained by the Pioneer Press show Wallace’s monthly travel stipend is increasing as well, from $450 to $600. And instead of the amount of vacation time that can be carried over from year-to-year maxing out at 44 days, he may accumulate up to 69 unused days that become compensable upon his departure.
Five of the 22 vacation days he collects annually are allowed to roll over fiscal years.
“Dr. Wallace does not typically take all vacation days available to him, the main reason being he doesn’t have that much time away from the job to take,” explained District 207 spokesman Dave Beery. “It allows him to accumulate vacation days so he doesn’t lose their value.”
The only figure that decreased from the first agreement to the latest is the amount Wallace would owe District 207 for terminating his contract early. In the event that he retires before July 1, 2019, Wallace would have to pay liquidated damages of $25,000, down from the previous fee arrangement of $30,000.
School Board President Margaret McGrath noted the benefits to renewing the superintendent’s contract in a release from the district.
“Dr. Wallace has demonstrated exemplary leadership, not only in setting the tone for the professional development of teacher leadership and classroom innovations that are resulting in improved education and opportunities for students, but also in effectively managing and resolving budgetary, personnel and student issues,” McGrath said.
“The extension of his contract ensures invaluable continuity as the District follows through on several initiatives, the continued success of which has been integrated into his contract in the form of performance goals.”
The school board on Oct. 7 approved Wallace’s new five-year agreement 6 to 1, with board newcomer Mary Childers casting the sole “no” vote.
Before being named superintendent, Wallace had served four years as District 207’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.