SUGAR GROVE – Members of the Kaneland School District 302 Board voted Monday night to approve the resignation of Superintendent Jeff Schuler, but it was not a unanimous decision.
Two members – Tony Valente and Veronica Bruhl – voted against the consent agenda item at the special board meeting called at Kaneland Harter Middle School. It was the board’s first meeting since Schuler announced that he was leaving to accept an offer to become the next superintendent at Wheaton Warrenville School District 200.
Four members – Teresa Witt, Peter Lopatin, Pedro Rivas and Gale Pavlak – voted to accept Schuler’s resignation, as well as the other consent agenda items approving new positions and hires in the district. School Board President Cheryl Krauspe was unable to attend the meeting.
Bruhl said she has heard from residents who were upset that the Schuler announcement came so close to the beginning of the new school year, which will be Aug. 20. Schuler’s resignation will be effective Sept. 1.
“People are very, very unhappy,” Bruhl said.
Schuler in 2011 signed a contract extension, which began in the 2012-13 school year and ran through the 2015-16 year. The contract called for Schuler to make $158,525 in his first year at Kaneland. In 2013, he received a raise that would push his salary to $175,000. At Wheaton, his base salary will be $225,000.
Valente said he had a problem with long-term contracts, saying there was “no guarantee that people stay.” Valente pointed out that he was against the contract at the time, but “of course, I was shot down, as usual.”
“The board made a commitment that was not returned,” said Valente, who added that “in the future, we should not give long-term contracts” or, he said, make sure such contracts are honored.
Witt, the board’s vice president who acted as the president in Krauspe’s absence, said she noted Valente’s objection. But she said it “is not unusual for people to leave.” She praised Schuler saying she was “not surprised Jeff was recruited and eventually hired.” She said he engaged the community “to a new level.” She praised him for increasing rigor at the high school level.
“As a parent, I am forever grateful,” she said.
The board has scheduled an additional meeting Aug. 18 and still plans to meet, as scheduled, Aug. 25.
The board Monday went into executive session for more than 90 minutes, a move Valente fought and voted against. But after the executive session, Valente said it was justified. He said he voted against the resignation because it would break the contract, and “why give contracts if you don’t honor them?”
As far as Schuler’s replacement, Witt said it was premature to talk about a timetable or whether a long-term contract would be offered. She said Schuler did a good job and added “he leaves us in a much better place than when he came.”
“Wheaton Warrenville’s gain is our loss,” Witt said.