District 80 hopeful condemns contract renewals


District 80 board candidate Sam Palazzo asks for no long term contracts be signed; Board renews them anyway

On the agenda for the January 15 2018 board of education meeting was a 3-year contract renewal for District 80’s two expensive principals: Michelle Guzik and Stephanie Palmer.

As of the current fiscal year, Guzik was making nearly $120,000 and Palmer $142,000, both in base salaries not including benefits.

In comparison, the principals of Union Ridge and Pennoyer schools received nearly $109,000, and $100,000 in base salary, respectively.

Prior to the vote, D-80 board candidate Sam Palazzo addressed both the board and the audience in a statement, saying “there should be no multi year contracts negotiated or agreed upon” including “administrative, teacher, consultant, and vendors” until after the election, where as many as five seats could change.

The new board should not be placed in situations where it can be controlled by its current board, with regards to the multi-year contracts, and should delay any such contract renewals until after election, Palazzo argued.

Of course, the majority on the board didn’t see things that way. They plowed ahead and passed both renewals on a majority vote, with Jennifer Paoletti the only dissenter .

Paoletti, who is not running for re-election, echoed Palazzo’s arguments that the contracts not be approved now.

Tim Ludston stated that the contract renewals can’t wait and that multi-year renewals are “normal business”.

Paoletti said “with five seats up [for election], and the fact that neither one of these contracts are going to expire before the new board is seated and has the opportunity to review them and then they get to vote on it, they meaning the people this community is electing … I think we’re tying their hands”.

Board member Warner DeJulio, who is also not running again, mused “Does anybody on the board think the motive for the contract is to lock the two principals and to block out the next board?”

Well, obviously you don’t Mr DeJulio, but for the people outside of your small bubble, the answer to that question, is yes.

Should we expect another renewal for Superintendent Paul O’Malley before the election? What “explanations” will DeJulio and Ludston come up for that one?

Other highlights

An elevator lift at Leigh is not functioning and its stated repair will cost $25,000. However, the board does not seem willing to bid out the repairs as it is claimed the lift is proprietary.

A recent elevator inspection concluded that the elevator issue had to be addressed because the upper floor is used by the day care, although Superintendent O’Malley stated that he had only seen the lift used to move furniture and not people.

The District also has other lifts that will need maintenance at some point in the future.

Notable board members absent from the meeting are incumbents running for re-election Mike Bellafiore and Frank Stoffel.

Stoffel has seen much controversy, including the surfacing of his indecent behavior on social media.

Last week, Stoffel’s personal and campaign Facebook pages appeared to have been taken down, and it is unclear whether or not he remains a candidate in the race.

Recording of the January 15 2019 D-80 Board Meeting (until closed session, 26  minutes)

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