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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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Unions and advocacy groups can stop local school consolidation

    The Illinois Association of Superintendents (IASA) is an advocacy group for school administrators.

    As mentioned in this story, IASA strongly opposes a bill that would force consolidations across the state. In fact, IASA opposes consolidation in any form because that would mean less superintendents – their constituents.

    If you go to the IASA website you will read that the advocacy group is happy with the flood of calls from school administrators to legislators to stop the consolidation bill. IASA was probably behind the push to get school administrators to call legislators.

    "Thank you for your hard work on this issue as we continue to fight this battle," says an editorial on the IASA website.

    So whatever Brent Clark says about consolidation either from state or local leaders is disingenuous because he and IASA oppose consolidation period.

    I am sure Clark is aware that the chances of consolidation on the local level is nill because the all powerful Teacher's Union combined with IASA could easily kill any consolidation movement on the local level.

    See how that works.

    1. How?

      Technically speaking, how could the IASA and the teacher's unions in Evanston kill a referendum to bind the two school districts together? And why would they want to? They could obviously protest and say its a bad idea, but what District 65 teacher is going to say consolidation is a bad idea when there's a 99.9% chance they're getting a pay bump so their salaries are closer in line with 202 teachers? The IASA could say its a bad idea to consolidate 202 and 65, except for the fact that the resulting Superintendent position would also have a 99.9% chance of having a pay bump (under the argument that due to increased responsibilities and still saving money, the new Supt. should garner one of the highest wages for that position in the state).

      So do we want consolidation, or do we want to leave things the way they are? Aren't both options going to cost us? How are you going to make your decision on the issue, or have you?

  2. Teacher’s Union and Consolidation

    Based upon the current relationship between the teachers and the District 65 Administration, the 65 Teachers Union should be overwhelmingly supportive of the idea of consolidation.  Squeezing out the top level of high paid D65 Administrators might go a long way towards improving teacher morale.

  3. Why do we need superintendents in the first place?

    My kids go to Pope John where there is no superintendent.  The place functions just fine without one.  Am I missing something?

    1. Superintendents

      Superintendents are the executive of the district, which is why ETHS has its own in Dr. Witherspoon. I'm sure Pope John has a Principal, which would be the equatable position. ETHS doesn't have a Principal AND a Superintendent (meaning it does not have two top executives), the Principal (Oscar Hawthorne) is also entitled as an Assistant Superintendent. This is probably a nomenclature used across Illinois when it comes to single-school school districts.

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