Board splits on assignments for two H-F administrators

The District 233 board on Tuesday, June 18, moved two administrators into new assignments at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, but not without some controversy and a split vote.
 
Craig Fantin was recently hired for the 2019-20 school year as a dean. The board reassigned him to be the associate principal in the South Building. He will fill the spot vacated by Lawrence Cook, the incoming business manager. Fantin starts at $125,500. He has a three-year contract.
 
Fantin most recently was principal at Peotone High. He started his career as a math teacher at H-F in 2001 and moved into administrative positions. He was an assistant principal when he resigned in 2017 for the Peotone job.
 
The board also moved North Building Assistant Principal Jennifer Rudan into the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) coordinator position and gave her a three-year contract. She was hired at a salary of $110,313. This is a state-mandated position, although the state is not reimbursing the district for salary expenses, board president Steve Anderson said.  
 
The opening for assistant principal in the North Building is being advertised.
 
According to information on the Illinois Board of Education website, MTSS is a framework that guides and integrates daily practices to improve outcomes for all students. District 233 is required to have “a full, fluid continuum of supports” and MTSS is data driven.
 
When the board voted for Rudan’s MTSS position, the vote was 4 yes, 2 no and 1 abstention. 
 
The board met as a Committee of the Whole before the regular 7:30 p.m. meeting to discuss these appointments and several faculty hires. As the voting was about to begin on the hiring, board member Annette Bannon said she would vote “no because of my perception of improper process.” She also voted against six teacher hires, although she said she was not objecting to the positions or the hires personally. 

She subsequently told the Chronicle: "As I review open session meeting minutes, I do not see evidence of discussion related to some positions. New positions are not a topic protected by closed sessions according to the Open Meetings Act. Therefore, I voted no based on improper process, in my opinion, related to those positions."  
 
New board member Pamela Jackson said she would abstain from voting because she was not familiar with the process. It was only her second meeting as a board member.
 
Member Gerald Pauling, chair of the Personnel Committee, said he disagreed with Bannon’s stance saying there was nothing “improper about our process, not lawfully, not according to our by-laws.” Board member Nathan Legardy said the board’s attorney had assured members the decisions and vote followed proper procedure. They and board member Debbie Berman voted for the hires.
 
Member Beth Larocca also voted down the Rudan position.
 
“I believe we need this position, but I’m also concerned that we’re looking for ways to cut the budget and we keep adding positions,” Larocca said.
 
When Anderson cast his vote for the hire, he reiterated that the position is mandated by the Illinois State Board of Education. Anderson said after the meeting that Bannon raised questions on the timing of the appointments. Anderson said the board had to fill the MTSS job for the 2019-20 school year, and the board doesn't have a scheduled meeting in July.
 
The board also awarded merit pay to several administrators for the 2018-19 school year: Principal Jerry Anderson, $7,500; Jodi Bryant, director of human resources and public relations, $7,500; Lawrence Cook, associate principal, $3,000; Gary Posing, director of information services, $4,000; Jennifer Rudan, assistant principal, $5,000; Angela Taylor, director of special education,  $3,000; Thomas Wagner, director of operations and maintenance, $4,000.
 
The merit pay was recommended to the Personnel Committee by Superintendent Von Mansfield as a thanks to administrators and recognition for the “countless hours” they put into their jobs. Pauling said the board “greatly appreciates” all the efforts by the leadership team.
 
Larocca voted against the merit pay.
 

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