School Superintendent Hardy Murphy won another contract extension this week.


School Superintendent Hardy Murphy won another contract extension this week.

The Evanston/Skokie District 65 board, which has repeatedly drawn criticism for giving Murphy contracts running five years into the future — beyond the term of any sitting board member — did it again Monday night.

Two years ago when Murphy’s contract came up for a vote in September, during the school year, the proposal was the subject of heated community controversy. Murphy’s contract was last extended in December 2008.

But this year the board chose to take the vote in the middle of the summer with only minimal public notice.

Board members Bonnie Lockhart, Andrew Pigozzi, Jerome Summers, Keith Terry and Kim Weaver voted for the extension.

Tracy Quattrocki opposed it saying a five year contract isn’t in the best interest of the district.

Katie Bailey was absent from the meeting.

The new contract for Murphy, who’s been District 65 superintendent for 10 years, extends his term through June 30, 2014.

Update 8/6/09: District 65 issued a news release this afternoon noting, in part, that Murphy did not ask for a salary increase this year, and saying that was “an indication of his concern for the tough times that all are facing.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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11 Comments

  1. 5-years more for Murphy — what a disgrace!
    The District 65 Board should be ashamed of this obvious middle-of-the-summer maneuver to hand their “golden” superintendent another contract extension.

    Superintendent Murphy makes it his business to divide our community at every opportunity, rather than build a strong parent and child community. He demonizes parents.

    He is running our school system into the ground while he pursues mediocrity instead of excellence. To support my assertion, look at the ISAT scores.

    It is well documented that the ISAT is a pathetically standardized test. Yet look at the scores posted by District 65.

    District 65 will only tell you how many students “meet and exceed” standards as a combined number. They used to report those numbers separately. Why the change? Because it’s virtually certain that the number of students in Evanston public schools exceeding standards has dropped during Murphy’s tenure.

    Why don’t we know how many students exceed the pathetic standards of the ISAT? Why is it acceptable to District 65’s Superintendent and Board to just meet those dismal standards?

    Shame on all of you Board members who voted to extend this contract. Our community is not well served by you and your sheeplike devotion to the Superintendent. One day, this community will wake up and see what he has done to make the “lighthouse district” into the “race-to-the bottom district.”

    For our tax dollars, we can and should do better. But we won’t have the opportunity to make a change for another five years. Shame.

  2. Another contract extension for Dr. Murphy ??
    In today’s challenging economic environment, granting a 5 year contract to ANY superintendent seems irresponsible at best, and raises significant issues about the legitimacy and responsibility of the D65 school board to our community.
    The role of a board is to oversee the management of the organization. How can this be done when a 5 year contract has been given? Why will someone run for the next D65 school board election when they know going into the situation that they will not have any control over the superintendent? This action taken in the quiet of the summer months, when many people are away on vacation will serve to raise questions about the superintendent, the new president of D65 School Board, Keith Terry, and diminish the credibility of the the district in the eyes of the community. Unfortunately, all students will lose.

    1. Extending contracts in today’s environment
      What is far more irresponsible and more costly by MILLIONS of dollars is the four year contracts that were just given by the 202 and 65 boards to the teachers.

      They have given yearly raises for four years when residents are losing their jobs or taking pay cuts. I don’t think our superintendents should be getting raises in today’s economy but this is peanuts compared to what the four year teacher’s contracts will do and has done to our schools.

      To keep abreast of this financial commitment younger, less tenured teachers will be let go, more programs (how many more student activities will be left to cut?) will be cut and we will all be asked to pay more taxes- to school districts, 202 in particular, that spend more per student than most school districts in Illinois.

      As to oversight with a 5 year contract- how can this be done with teachers with a 4 year contract- great questions, just make sure you include the hundreds of staff that fall into this category.

      Already 202 is complaining that they are getting less money from the State and it is severely impacting the budget- and this a surprise?

  3. simple math
    It’s a very simple solution to rectify a problem when it comes to elected officials. If the majority of voters feel that these (or any) elected officials are negligent in their duties to serve in the best interest of the population of this city, then the elected officials can be voted out of their respective seats.

    People really do have the power to control the direction that their elected officials take. People just need to become aware of that power and then use it. Until this happens it will be ‘business as usual’ for any elected official.

    1. Not so simple
      Apparently, you haven’t been paying attention to D65 politics. 1) It doesn’t matter who is elected to the school board (a 4-year term), if the superintendent has a contract extending beyond that term (5-years), unless the board plans to buy-out his contract. 2) You can’t change the character of the school board if an insufficient number of candidates willing to change the direction of the board will run for open seats. And why won’t they? See #1.

      1. easy as A B C?
        I follow the board politics just as I follow any political body. Thanks for the assumption.

        You assume for your argument that the majority of board members only run for one term. Facts to back this up? If members run for more than one term…argument solved.

        You also assume that the only reason someone would run for a open seat on the school board is to take issue with the superintendent. Shallow thinking from my point of view. I would guess that there are many other issues that persuade someone to run for a seat on the school board.

        But perhaps I am not as schooled in the political maneuvering of the board members as you?

  4. Trying to set the record for contract extensions?
    The school board has now extended Murphy’s contract 5 times in his first 10 years as superintendent. More puzzling, all 5 extensions have come in the last 5.5 years.

    What I really don’t understand is why, during the past year, the board has chosen to extend the contract for such short amount of times. In December, they extended it six months. Now, they’re extending it another six months. Both times they’ve dealt exclusively with periods of time BEYOND THEIR TERMS AS SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS.

    Why act this way? If this is the way the board is going to go, why not save some time and just extend the contract for 15 years and not worry about it for another decade?

    For more information: http://media.www.dailynorthwestern.com/media/storage/paper853/news/2009/03/06/City/Debate.Rages.Over.Superintendent-3663165-page2.shtml

  5. This is very unusual
    Just after the new batch of board members came on board they extended Murphy’s contract. Then, seven months later, they extend it again.

    Why? What’s the reason? Is this ordinary procedure for public school boards?

    This doesn’t pass the smell test.

    Unions in the public sector are bankrupting and corrupting our public schools, and city, county and state government.

    Parents and Evanston residents need to organize and do something.

  6. At least one person was thinking
    My thanks go to Tracy Quattrocki for having the good sense and will to stand out as the only vote against a contract extension. Must be nice for Dr. Murphy to get such job security at a time when so many Evanston families are struggling. At least he didn’t ask for a raise…

    1. and performing their fiduciary duty
      I’d like to add my thanks to Ms. Quattrocki as well. Even though she was outvoted on this issue, at least the community has elected one person who
      gets the idea of condicting the business of the district in such a manner as to exercise good stewardship over our tax monies. While I can certainly understand anyone’s desire for job security, asking for extensions every nine months for another sixty is excessive in my opinion.

  7. Contract Extension
    Did the present board attend D65 schools? They certainly do not “exceed the standards” when it comes to accountability, and oversight.

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