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Letter: Parent Asks District 308 Superintendent Not to Accept Salary Increase

Apr 27, 2015 02:07PM, Published by Steven Jack, Categories: Opinion, Education, Today




Dear Dr. Matthew Wendt, Oswego School District 308 Superintendent.

Last month, I wrote a, shall we say, sarcastic letter to show my support for your efforts as our district’s leader, applauding your work in partnership with the current school board to do whatever it takes to earn more money for yourself, even at the sake of our children’s education. I realize that last letter may have come off as a bit harsh, so I’m hoping you will hear me out here.

You see, I’ve learned that tonight, the current board will vote to grant you a $25,000 raise, taking you from a $225,000 annual base salary to $250,000, also adding the stipulation that no future acting board can reduce that salary through the duration of your contract. Although the contract change also eliminates your performance-based bonus pay, which was significant, you will still receive an annual annuity of $22,500 on top of your base pay, putting your total cash compensation at $272,500. This puts you in a stratosphere far above most of your peers in neighboring districts, including those with much higher student populations, such as Naperville 203 and Indian Prairie 204.

In your “Ask Dr. Wendt” blog posted on March 30, in response to parents’ questions about your contract, you indicated that your base salary would include no increase throughout your five-year employment contract. You stated, “(A)nnual salary increases would occur through the bonus/merit performance pay, rather than through increases in the base salary.” You went on to write, “Unless a change is made, my base salary in the 2018-19 school year will be the same base salary paid in the 2012-13 school year.”

Yet, not even a month later, here we are, with the board voting to give you a raise to your base salary. Understandably, people are mad, Dr. Wendt. They were already mad about recent decisions by the board, about programs being cut, and about you earning an already-inflated salary while our teachers remain underpaid. The people of this community channeled their anger at the elections, voting in three new board members, all of whom have questioned administrator salaries. But rather than be humbled by those voices, you and the current board instead are trying to pull a fast one before the new board members are seated, making sure you get your money before they can have a say.

On April 13, the board granted you $300,000 to award pay increases to administrators across the district. We can all agree that there are many principals, assistant principals and other administrators who well deserve the proposed raises of $1,500-$5,500. But just because they’re all getting raises doesn’t mean you have to as well, let alone a raise five times greater than anyone else.

So I ask, what’s more important to you, Dr. Wendt – the money or the support of the people in this community? I do not fault you for looking out for yourself first, but now, it might be best for you to win back our goodwill. If you take the money, know that each of those extra 25,000 dollars in your pocket will further directly, negatively impact the opinions of you held by parents, teachers and citizens. Those are points you cannot afford to lose at this juncture of your tenure, not if you have any hope of effectively managing this district or your reputation for the next several years.

Dr. Wendt, I challenge you to regain the trust and support of this community. You have an opportunity,tonight, to stand before the current board and do the right thing.

Don’t accept the raise.

Ivonne Furneaux

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