The Evanston/Skokie School District 65 board is scheduled to discuss Superintendent Hardy Murphy’s contract when it meets Monday evening.

No information was immediately available about the substance of the planned discussion, but the school board has drawn criticism in the past for giving Murphy contracts that extend five years into the future — beyond the term of any sitting school board member.

Murphy was out of his office when Evanston Now called this morning to ask about the contract, as was the district’s public information director, Pat Markam.

School board member Tracy Quattrocki this morning said she wanted to check whether the contract was still subject to confidentiality rules covering personnel issues before discussing it. Last August, Quattrocki was the only board member to vote against extending Murphy’s contract, saying a five year agreement wasn’t in the district’s best interest.

Murphy’s current contract extends through June 30, 2014.

Murphy, in a statement after the contract extension vote last August, said he hadn’t asked for a salary increase for the school year that’s now ending out of concern for the tough economic times the district was facing.

Since then the district has been forced by uncertainty about state funding and other economic issues to layoff dozens of teachers and other staff, although some may be rehired before the new school year starts in the fall.

The school district operates independently of the city. But Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz proposed a five percent pay cut for himself and the city’s department heads in the budget for the city’s fiscal year that started in March. The City Council approved those cuts as well as laying off dozens of city workers to balance its budget.

The head of the Evanston PTA Council, Mindy Wallis, said that given the current economic situation, she hopes Murphy “would show leadership by taking a pay cut and not a pay raise. In fact, all the administrative staff could take 5 percent pay cuts, like the department heads at the city.”

“I don’t necessary object to Dr. Murphy having a five-year contract,” Wallis said, “although I do wonder how the board can ensure accountability when his employment is guaranteed.”

“What I have a problem with is the way in which this process proceeds. Each time Dr. Murphy’s contract is discussed, it seems to be when school is not in session and parents are out of town. If the board seeks to reward Dr. Murphy for his job performance by extending his contract, you would think they would want to publicize it, rather than apparently doing it under the radar,” she added.

The school board meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the district’s administration building at 1500 McDaniel Ave.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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20 Comments

  1. I must say this whole process

    I must say this whole process is getting old.  School ends, people leave town, board considers yet another extension, no one is available to comment, little discussion of the issue takes place, extension gets passed. 

    The school board (and Hardy Murphy) are playing a game with the taxpayers.  They are also playing the people of Evanson as stupid.  And we are, for letting this happen over and over again.  What a sad situation we have– a school board that is in the pocket of the superintendant, who in turn has a contract long enough that he is totally unaccountable to the board that supposedly oversees his actions.  And there’s no end in sight; who will want to run fpr the board, given the way that previous ex-board members who attempted to rein in Murphy were treated.

    Sadly, there’s one winner in this situation, and the rest of us are losers.

     

  2. Another contract extension for Murphy?

    Let’s hope they are considering buying out his contract!!! Unfortunately, his school board pocket pals are probaby trying to sneak through another unjustified contract extension when they think no one is paying attention.  If anyone out there has a problem with the way DIstrict 65 is being run, make your voice heard at the school board meeting on Monday. Back in September when he still had three years left on his contract, they extended it until 2014.  Why? 

    1. Why, exactly?!  I don’t

      Why, exactly?!  I don’t believe that the school board ever makes the suggestion for the extension of Dr. Murphy’s contract.  HRM brings the request to them and it is always done in a very sleasy way!  Last year I didn’t know anything about the request and vote until it was over.  And this time he is attempting to sneak the discussion and vote through right after school let out for summer! 

      He thinks that he is so sly but this time I’m hearing plenty of chatter on places like this and though e-mails……Perhaps this time the community will finally stand up and make a loud stance against extending his contract again!

  3. Vote no on contract extension!

    Funny how the untenured teachers and staff of the district don’t seem to get an annual extension or guarantee of a job. I think this is shameful. Please, board members, vote "no" on a contract extension!

  4. Contact the School Board

    I’ve been discussing Dr. Murphy’s forthcoming request with parents all day, and they all say the same thing – "unbelievable." The sheer gall of it would be laughable if it wasn’t such a terrible development for the District – and it’s families – as a whole.

    Dr. Murphy’s contract already extends well past the term of any school board member, rendering him all but immune to performance review. The district is in the midst of a severe financial crisis in which it has terminated significant numbers of both non-tenured teachers and other staff.

    And, of course, the school year has just ended, allowing concerned parents – those most likely to oppose yet another extension for Dr. Murphy – to think they might focus on something besides the continued problems in District 65.

    I hope all parents – and concerned community members – will take the time to express their views to the school board. At a minimum – even if you support Dr. Murphy – you might ask them to take up the issue when school is in session to allow adequate warning to the community at large. You can find their contact info here:

    http://www.district65.net/boardofed/Contact

     

  5. Please vote no on contract extension!

     This situation has gone beyond embarrassing for Evanston – it must end now.

  6. Speak out NOW-contact School Board members

    Everyone can talk about this issue, but EVERYONE needs to take action. What can you do? Contact the school board members and give them your opinion. Come speak at the School Board meeting on Monday June 14th (you must register with Pat Markham at 847 859-8067 or e-mail her : markhamp@district65.net before noon on June 14th

    Call & E-mail the board TODAY and let them know what you think !!!

    Katie Bailey – baileyk@district65.net – 847 475-8166 H

    Bonnie Lockhart – lockhartb@district65.net

    Andrew Pigozzi – pigozzia@district65.net – 847 332-2544 H

    Tracy Quattrocki – quattrockit@district65.net

    Jerome Summers – summersj@district65.net 847 869-4543 H

    Keith Terry – terryk@district65.net 847 570-0860 W; 847 226-2819 Cell

    Kim Weaver – weaverk@district65.net 847 864-7684 H

    Also consider running for D65 School Board – Next election is April 5, 2011 – 3 slots are open; Katie Bailey, Bonnie Lockhart and Keith Terry – all their terms end – Will they run again ?

    Strong leadership is needed and if no one "qualified" runs, we’ll continue to get more of the same – our children suffer, our country suffers – what a shame

     

     

     

  7. Disenfranchisement!

    By voting to extend contracts beyond their own terms in office, sitting board members essentially remove executive control functions (i.e. hiring & firing powers) from future elected officials.

    Voters are thereby disenfranchised.

    While I understand that strategic planning is required that may set the course for the district’s future beyond board member’s tenure, contract extensions should not be considered as part of those strategic plans.

  8. What’s the example for our children?

    My children attend District 65.  They are old enough to read the article and these comments.

    What do they learn from the Superintendent of their school district?

    Here’s the lesson:  when you want something, grease the skids so there is no opposition from those elected to review your performance.  Make the request at a time when it’s likely that no one can raise a challenge — after school adjourns.  Then be ready to call names and make hurtful accusations if anyone dares to challenge your request (that lesson is based on previous requests for contract extensions and raises).  And don’t give a darn if you are doing something that will divide your community — just demand what you want.

    This man does not deserve to lead a school district when this is his approach to getting a contract extension (and almost certainly a raise).  His approach to asking for (read: demanding) a contract extension and probably a raise reveals his true character and it’s not good.

    Athletes are held to a higher standard of conduct as being "examples" for our children.  How about the people who are supposed to be leading our school districts?

    We can and should do better for our children.  District 65 School Board members, we expect you to consider how the Superintendent maneuvers such issues and vote "no" on this request/demand.

  9. Who wins?

    I am a District 65 employee.

    The only beneficiary of a contract extension is the superintendent. 

    Supt. Murphy has done good work.  It is time for  all of us to move on. Ten years under one leader, we all get stale.  Time for a hearty handshake, not a contract extension…and a new superintendent.

  10. Laws and guidelines for multi-year superintendents

    The Illinois Association of School Boards discusses the law and guidelines for multi-year superintendent contracts:  http://www.iasb.com/l    It concludes references to the Illinois School Code which requires that multi-year supertendent contracts include performance criteria.  Dr. Murphy’s contract does not include performance criteria in the document!

    No-one is this economy has this level job and financial security!  Dr. Murphy is essentially guaranteed to make over one million dollars in five years, no matter what the public wants!

    The School Board should delay consideration of a contract extension until 2013.  Enough of this sneaking through extensions when Dr. Murphy feels that he can get away with it! 

    1. Illinois School Code language

      Thank you to the commenter providing the link to IASB! The language from the school code is as follows:

       

      Section 10-23.8 of the Illinois School Code contains the "performance-based" provisions applicable to multi-year superintendent employment agreements:

      "Performance-based contracts shall be linked to student performance and academic improvement within the schools of the districts. No performance-based contract shall be extended or rolled-over prior to its scheduled expiration unless all the performance and improvement goals contained in the contract have been met. Each performance-based contract shall include the goals and indicators of student performance and academic improvement determined and used by the local school board to measure the performance and effectiveness of the superintendent and such other information as the local school board may determine."

       

      1. Why then was Dr.

        Why then was Dr. Witherspoon’s contract extended as ETHS is still a failing school ?

  11. Vote No

    I would like to know just who proposed this ludicrous and shameful idea?
     
    Any extension of Dr. Murphy’s contractwould be a slap in the face to the many, many teachers that have been let go in this time of economic crisis, the parents of District 65 students who have been sold a false bill of goods for a decade now, and the present and future students who will ultimately suffer under his lack of real leadership.

    He is at the helm of an under-performing district that has seen a revolving door of principals at almost every school. He regularly trots out initiatives that are grandly named, hastily planned, and ultimately impossible to assess.

    A district with a respectable school board would surely take him to task on these issues, but it seems that this board would rather take him to dinner- and pay to boot!

    1. Speaking of grand ideas, little planning and no assessment

      Where is the District’s assessment of the Africo-Centric Curriculum program touted by Superintendent Murphy?  By my count, that program has been operating for four school years. 

      School children in District 65 are constantly being assessed.  There is data available, but we in the public are not seeing it.

      Last year in spring, 2009, the children who started in the program as first graders in fall, 2006 had their first ISAT results as third graders.  Where are those results and how do they compare to children in other D65 programs?  

      This year, the children who started in the program as kindergartners had their first ISATs.  Those results will be available from the state soon. 

      I expect that Superintendent Murphy will provide those results as part of his request for an extended contract.  And hopefully Dr. Murphy will honestly present the facts…the classes are very small and there are almost always at least two adults in the room (teacher plus aide or reading specialist or administrator).  Given that focus of resources, I am hopeful that this program shows the vast majority of children in this program achieving at least at grade level and hopefully above grade level.

      What is the District’s plan for evaluating this program and what is the timing?  Back in spring, 2006, we (meaning the public) were told that there would be such an in-depth evaluation.  

      This is just one example of the Superintendent’s typical approach to change — flashy concept with little substance, community questions, nasty tactics, a win for the Superintendent, then silence from the Hill Center.

       

  12. According to Dr. Murphy’s

    According to Dr. Murphy’s most recent contract he now earns a salary of $214,115.08, a contribution toward a tax deferred annuity in the amount of 15% of his salary ($32,117) and a housing allowance of $25,000 each year. Grand Total: $271,232. His most recent contract extention (which now runs thru June, 2014) was voted on at an August 3, 2009 Board meeting. This decision is too important to happen outside of the public eye during the summer.

    In the future, if the school board decided that a change in superintendent was a fiscal necessity, they would not be able to let Dr. Murphy go without buying out the duration of his contract. So that means, the board is committing the public to over a million dollar financial liability.

    Hardy Murphy keeps telling parents that if they want to have their voice heard they should go to private school. Well, we did not vote for him, but we did vote for the school board members. They should be listening to our "voice" and should not be getting us in such a financial mess.

    No one in this economy has this level job and financial security. He is essentially guaranteed to make over one million dollars in five years, no matter what the public wants.

    There is absolutely no need to extend his contract. Please go to the school board meeting and make sure your voice is heard.

    1. A housing allowance?

      Well, you caught my attention.

      Considering I know people who are losing their homes in the Evanston School district–people who bought in this district so their kids could go to Evanston schools–and now are being pushed out because of taxes, job loss, etc. …

      What–can’t Hardy find a house on his salary?

      And guess what, Hardy, if we want our voice heard, we will elect new school board officials who actually work for what we want–You. Out.

  13. Dr. Murphy

    Another contract extension!!! Dr. Murphy has been given $25K a year for the last 10 years for housing allowance ( 250K )/? When does a housing allowance end.?Has the board ever evaluated Dr. Murphy,? Where is his professional appraisal ? Is he above being evaluated? I recall that he received a raise for what appeared to be a job well done by keeping distrrict employees raises down to a bare minimum. 

    This board has to be more proactive. The public voted for you. Therefore you work for us and the Superintendent works for us as well . We say No to another contract extension.

    1. Dr. Murphy

      Before Dr. Murphy joined Evanston as superintendent, there was a review process in place that allowed for principals and other staff to review the super…..that went out the door! 

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