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Evanston school chiefs max out contract lengths

Both Evanston school superintendents enjoy the longest contracts permitted under state law.

That's the word from Brent Clark, the executive director of the Illinois Association of School Administrators.

Both Evanston school superintendents enjoy the longest contracts permitted under state law.

That's the word from Brent Clark, the executive director of the Illinois Association of School Administrators.

Those long contracts for District 65's Hardy Murphy and District 202's Eric Witherspoon have become an issue dividing candidates running for school board seats in the April 5 election.

Clark, in a telephone interview from Springfield, said superintendents' contracts can be as short as one year, but "you don't see many of those."

"If you have somebody who's brand new and has never been a superintendent before and has minimal credentials, you might see him get a two-year pact," Clark said.

Candidates with more experience and strong credentials usually get longer terms than that, he added.

Clark said he's not aware of any research that would show what the average contract duration is for Illinois school superintendents.

The Illinois State Board of Education is required by law to collect and publish information on school superintendents' salaries and fringe benefits. But a board spokesman said doesn't collect data on the length of their contracts.

Clark said he doesn't see contracts for administrators that outlast the four-year terms of the board members who hired them as a problem.

"Superintendents usually transcend the time of any school board members," Clark said. "School board members come and go, but superintendents a lot of times stay somewhere a long time, if they're doing a good job and taking care of business."

On another issue, Clark said the association is opposed to legislation being considered in Springfield that would force many school districts in the state to consolidate and is pleased the the bill does not appear to be advancing.

"We believe districts should be open to talking about consolidation, but the decison should be made at the local level, not forced by the state," Clark said.

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