Flossmoor School District 161 is sticking with Superintendent Dana Smith until at least the end of June 2026.
The school board voted unanimously on Monday, April 12, to approve a five-year contract extension for Smith.
The superintendent is to be paid $206,000 in his first year under the new contract, which begins July 1. That figure is to increase at least 1.5% on July 1 of each subsequent year, though the school board can add to that number at its discretion as well as bolster any benefits. The contract is “performance-based,” requiring an annual evaluation of whether Smith is hitting his goals, which are largely tied to student performance and academic improvements.
In a news release announcing Smith’s extension, District 161 noted the decision to stick with its superintendent was based on student performance and academic improvements across the district. Smith, who has served as superintendent for four years, earned two “exemplary” school ratings from the Illinois State Board of Education in that time, as well as improved test scores at Parker Junior High School, according to the release.
He also oversaw the development of STEAM labs in all four of the district’s elementary schools, ensured one-to-one technology access and negotiated a new collective bargaining agreement with the Flossmoor Education Association. He added a Community Engagement Committee, an Equity and Inclusion Committee, Finance Committee, and Learning and Instruction Committee in his time with the district. The district has also undergone infrastructure improvements and added a new strategic plan under Smith’s leadership.
Smith noted in the release that he was excited to keep that work going for the families of the district.
All of the action items at the April 12 meeting, including the contract approval, came after an executive session on matters relating to personnel issues that lasted more than an hour.
The board also voted unanimously at the meeting to approve new contracts for its administrators and non-administrators who are not part of the district’s collective bargaining agreement. The contracts come with individual salary increases that mark a 2.96% increase to overall administration costs and a 3.12% increase to non-administrative employee costs.
Smith noted in a report to the board that because those positions are not part of the collective bargaining agreement, those employees must be formally rehired to their positions.
Seeking a psychologist?
The school board and administrators also discussed hiring a lead psychologist for the special education department.
The position, pitched by Director of Special Education Jackie Janicke, would come with a salary range between $80,000 and $90,000 to be “primarily” grant-funded under the Individuals with Disabilities Act and Preschool For All grants.
Janicke noted in her report that a Special Education Needs Assessment sent to staff in June 2020 indicated that 54% of staff felt the district “does not have adequate support in the area of psychological services” while 57% said the Multi-Tier System of Support is in need of more help.
A lead psychologist could coordinate student interventions and professional development for staff; generate consistent data collection, review and analysis; plan, coordinate and facilitate preschool screenings and play-based assessments; coordinate community and parent involvement; organize and conduct specialized programs; and train and mentor new psychologists and special education staff regarding certain needs of students, per Janicke’s report.
The item was presented for discussion only at the April 12 meeting.
The school board voted unanimously to approve the 2021-2022 school calendar.
The calendar was described as “very similar” to that of the 2020-2021 calendar, with the school year set to start on Monday, Aug. 9, for staff and Thursday, Aug. 12, for students. The last day of school is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, May 25. Winter break, set to begin Dec. 22 and run through Jan. 4, does not directly align with Homewood District 153 and Homewood-Flossmoor High District 233.
The school board voted also unanimously to change its next board meeting from the originally scheduled date of April 26 to Tuesday, April 27, in an effort to seat the district’s newest board member on the first day possible, according to a report from Smith. He noted the change allows for the proper timeline for the certification of the 2021 Consolidated Election results.
Incumbents Misha Blackman, Carolyn Griggs and Cameron Nelson were all re-elected, and Aracelis Janelle Scharon was elected to join them. Board Member Stephen Paredes did not run for reelection.
There will be an immediate vacancy on the board when Board President Michelle Hoereth resigns and takes a seat April 30 as a newly elected member on the H-F board.