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H-F board member Jody Scariano says superintendent’s merit pay vote ‘about politics’

District 233 school board member Jody Scariano believes Homewood-Flossmoor High School Superintendent Von Mansfield was given an inappropriate amount of merit pay.
The $14,600 in merit pay was approved on a 6-1 vote at the Sept. 19 school board meeting. Board members Annette Bannon, Debbie Berman, John Farrell, Steve Anderson, Tim Wenckus and Beth Larocca voted to approve the merit pay.
Before she cast her vote, Scariano argued the money “does not reflect his (Mansfield) additional responsibilities and performance during last school year.”
“This recommendation, ladies and gentlemen, and this comes from my heart and this is my opinion, this is being honest and transparent: This is about politics, not policy.”
Scariano would not go in to detail, saying personnel negotiations are confidential. She stressed that serving on the board requires her to “vote my conscience.” 
Merit pay “is not something expected every year,” she explained.
Scariano has the most seniority on the board. She has served for 18 years and is the Finance Committee chair. Over her tenure, she has studied every board policy. 
According to board policy, merit pay is awarded when the board “believes that outstanding work performance merits additional recognition and compensation. The board extends this benefit to eligible employees to inspire them to exceed position description expectations and continually enhance the educational opportunities and environment for students. Ultimately, the district benefits from a compensation plan that recognizes and rewards exemplary employee performance.”
Mansfield was the last H-F administrator to receive merit pay. 

In June, the board voted unanimously to approve raises for Jodi Bryant, director of human resources and public relations — $6,000; Ken Parchem, business manager — $3,000; Gary Posing, director of information services — $3,000; Tom Wagner, director of operations and maintenance — $3,000; Lawrence Cook, assistant principal of North Building operations — $6,000; Ann Cherry, director of development and alumni relations — $1,000; Craig Fantin, assistant principal of South Building operations — $6,000; and Dan Vosnos, athletic director — $1,000. 

At the June meeting the board did vote 4-2 with one abstention for a two-year extension of Mansfield’s contract as superintendent. It was set to expire in June 2018. The board extended it through June 2020. His salary is $287,978. He will receive raises on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), not to exceed three percent. Current CPI is 0.07 percent.
Scariano joined the board on that vote, but she said at the time she had hoped for a four-year contract extension for Mansfield.
Administrators took on extra responsibilities during the 2016-17 school year to cover responsibilities normally handled by the principal. H-F did not have a principal last school year because the board released then-principal Ryan Pitcock from his contract in June 2016.
The board conducted a national search for a new principal. Jerry Lee Anderson was selected in February as the new principal and started with the district July 1. She has a one-year contract.

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