Departing Western Springs School Board extends superintendent’s contract
Updated: April 1, 2013 7:06AM
WESTERN SPRINGS — Brian Barnhart is slated to be at the helm of Western Springs Elementary District 101 through the 2018-19 school year.
Barnhart, who has been superintendent for 11 years, has been given a new five-year contract effective July 1. The superintendent had two years remaining on his existing contract.
“My contract is something the board and I discussed, and we extended the length of the contract,” Barnhart said.
Currently earning $222,789, Barnhart will receive a 3 percent annual cost-of-living salary increase each year of the new contract. No other salary increases are part of the contract, both Barnhart and School Board President Mark Ptacek noted.
Barnhart has been with the district for 14 years, first serving three years as a principal.
“Things have gotten rolling. We have our technology initiative, we have curriculum work going on, we have the core assessment,” Barnhart said. “The board feels I am a good fit with the district and that is hugely important to me. If you are mismatched, it is time to do something else.”
Barnhart said the district continues to be in excellent financial shape and earned a 3.9 on a 4.0 scale for its financial profile from the Illinois State Board of Education. The district has been at the state board’s top level for finances for eight straight years.
He said the district’s strong fund balances will be needed should the pension burden for teachers shift, at least partially, from the state to local districts. Barnhart said District 101 would have to pay $900,000 per year if the full pension burden was shifted from the state to the district.
The superintendent noted the district also faces an additional $150,000 to $300,000 annual financial burden as part of national health-care reform, which requires insurance be provided for all employees who work 30 hours or more. Many of those employees are not on the district insurance now.
The superintendent said he is proud District 101 ranks as the ninth highest performing district in the state. He added of the other nine school districts in the top 10, District 101 spends 38 percent less per pupil.
Ptacek said the district gave Barnhart a similar five-year deal in 2009. He said while Barnhart still had two years left on his current deal, the new contract is good for the district’s stability.
Ptacek, who will step down from the board this spring, said with only one incumbent seeking re-election, there could be three or four new board members taking over in April. Providing stable leadership with Barnhart is key, Ptacek said.
Ptacek said District 101 continues to provide one of the best educational experiences in the state, while keeping costs low.
“We have a $15 million annual budget. There is not a hierarchy. There are not a lot of assistant superintendents,” Ptacek said. “Dr. Barnhart wears many hats and he is well equipped to be a multitasker.”