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VVSD Board Approves $66K Tuition Reimbursement for Superintendent

Despite a request to table discussion until Valley View School District 365U Supt. James Mitchem was present, the board passed the contract amendment Monday night.

Superintendent James Mitchem will receive an almost $66,000 tuition reimbursement check following an amendment to his contract approved by the VVSD school board Monday night.

The $65,658 amount “represents the reasonable value of tuition reimbursement for the doctoral degree on an after-tax basis,” according to school board documents. Mitchem "shall be paid a bonus of $65,658 for the 2011‐2012 school year, payable on or before Aug. 1."

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Campbell said she had received several e-mails regarding the matter, specifically questioning the move in light of Mitchem's statement that he would not accept additional money from the district until students' achievement improved. 

Campbell recommended tabling a discussion, considering Mitchem was still on vacation and not present at the meeting to address the issue and answer questions raised by residents. 

Campbell's motion to table the discussion received no support from her other school board members. "I still believe we should have had more discussion about this and he should have been present," Campbell said. 

School Board Member Richard Gougis countered that it was an action taken by the school board, not Mitchem, and Mitchem did not need to explain the school board's actions.

"I don't understand why we need Mitchem to expain the action we're going to take," Gougis said. 

School Board President Steven Quigley said the tuition reimbursement was part of the discussion for Mitchem's contract but the reimbursement "inadvertently got left out of the contract." 

School Board Member Elizabeth Campbell questioned the timing of the amendment. 

"I need to know why at this particular time," Campbell said. "He's held the position since the beginning of the school year. Why are we doing this now?" 

Quigley said the "error" in Mitchem's contract was brought to his attention in June and because of scheduling, the amendment just ended up on the July agenda. 

"I feel like we're obligated to do it," Quigley said. "There is no hidden agenda." 

School Board Member Leo Venegas confirmed that the district sets aside $350,000 in its budget to reimburse higher education tuition for its teachers alone. 

School Board Members Venegas, Quigley, Gougis and Ronnie Bull voted in favor of the contract amendment. Campbell abstained from voting. Board Members Jim Curran and Chrystal Hansen were absent from the meeting. 

One woman addressed the board regarding the matter. Andrea Anderson, a parent and teacher for the district, thanked Campbell for attempting to table the discussion. 

"It's a big discussion in our community," Anderson said. "It's more than my salary. Thank you for tabling something for our community." 

stephanie July 20, 2012 at 02:46 AM
I personally understand they felt ambushed. However, their behavior and response is unjustified. I personally have lost respect due to their hostility.
Ken Leibach July 20, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Gov. Quinn Signs Law House Bill 4687 to Strengthen Open Meetings Act. Looks like this School Board will need to follow the new law in Illinois and send out its agenda to the taxpayers before the meeting, so they no longer can hide what is going on. House Bill 4687, sponsored by Rep. Sandra Pihos (R-Glen Ellyn) and Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale), requires public bodies conducting a public meeting to ensure that a copy of the meeting notice and agenda is available to the public for the entire 48 hours preceding the meeting, according to a press release from Gov. Quinn's office. The measure specifies that public bodies can satisfy this requirement by posting the meeting notice on the Internet. The law also ensures that meeting agendas provide the public with adequate information about the meeting’s actions.
dabrooklongtime July 22, 2012 at 05:29 PM
When did this law pass Ken. I think this is absolutely fantastic...now will the patch be making sure to also put those agendas on their websites under school news to make sure even more taxpayers view it prior to meetings. Also, do you know what the law states about adendums to the previously sent out agendas? Can public boards just do a switcheroo at the meeting or must they adhere to the agenda they sent?
Ken Leibach July 22, 2012 at 08:13 PM
This law just was signed July 19, 2012 by Governor Quinn. You can read about this, if you do a search online.
Mickey July 24, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Corruption runs deep on Pheasant Chase Drive. :-) Scary..

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