In an ongoing effort to establish greater continuity and stability, at its regular meeting tonight, the Lake Bluff Elementary School District 65 Board of Education took action to approve a new five-year contract for Superintendent Dr. Jean H. Sophie, who is currently in the second year of a three-year contract that was due to expire next year. The new contract will begin immediately and extend through April 30, 2019.
“Dr. Sophie is a true asset to District 65, and has met or exceeded all of the goals we established for her. Under her leadership, we have already made remarkable strides in student achievement, strategic planning, transparency, fiscal efficiency and teacher professional development, and she has greatly improved communications with our parents, staff and community,” said Board of Education President Mark Barry in recommending the contract extension.
In an effort to move Sophie’s compensation toward parity with her North Shore district superintendent peers, the Board approved compensation adjustments in her new contract, including additional term life insurance coverage and vacation time, as well as a 10 percent salary adjustment that will increase her compensation from $183,000 to $202,000. In addition, the Board granted Sophie a $20,000 bonus for meeting or exceeding all her performance goals.
The Board also approved a one-year extension of the District’s current contract with the Lake Bluff Teachers’ Council, the union representing the District’s approximately 90 professional educators. The contract extension will maintain the same terms and conditions as detailed in the District’s current three-year collective bargaining agreement, which was scheduled to expire on June 30, 2014. On average, Lake Bluff District 65 teachers will receive a 3 percent salary increase for the 2014-2015 school year as part of this contract extension.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty around public education right now as a result of pension reform, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, unfunded mandates and other public policy issues,” said Sophie. “We’re going to spend the next year meeting on a monthly basis with the Lake Bluff Teachers’ Council to jointly study and review these and other topics addressed in our contract. As a result, we will all come to the negotiating table next year with a common understanding of the issues, opportunities and challenges before us and can work together to develop a fair contract that is in the best interest of all District 65 stakeholders.”
The Lake Bluff Teachers’ Council ratified the one-year contract extension at a meeting on April 17. “This contract extension affords us the opportunity to study a variety of mutually-agreed upon topics connected to the negotiation process over the course of the upcoming year. Our hope is that such collaborative preparation will lead to a successful round of negotiations in the spring of 2015,” said Lake Bluff Teachers' Council President Tom Brown.
In a separate action, the Board approved administrative contracts for the 2014-2015 school year for Lake Bluff Middle School Principal Nathan Blackmer, Lake Bluff Elementary School Assistant Principal Tracy Roehrick and District Director of Student Services/Curriculum Kevin Rubenstein. All three will receive a salary increase of 3 percent. In addition, the Board awarded a $5,000 bonus to Rubenstein in recognition of his completion of a doctoral degree in educational leadership at Loyola University this year.
“In 2013, District 65 engaged in a comprehensive, nine-month strategic planning process that outlined a bold vision for the future of the District through enhancements to our curriculum, instructional technology, assessment and accountability” said Board of Education President Barry. “Tonight’s Board contract extensions for our administrators and teachers will provide stability and continuity, allowing all of us to collectively focus on advancing our mission to educate our students to be lifelong learners and well-rounded citizens through excellence in teaching in a safe, nurturing learning environment.”