Interim Superintendent: All District 113A Teaching Applicants Were Considered
Interim Superintendent Robert Madonia told Patch on Friday that all applicants—entry-level and those with experience—were considered, despite parents' claims to the contrary.
All applicants for the 10 vacant teaching positions in Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A—entry-level or otherwise—were considered by district administrators, Interim Superintendent Robert Madonia told Patch on Friday.
Last week, Madonia confirmed that interviews were underway to fill 12 vacant teaching positions, two of which will taken by tenured teachers with recall rights.
"We start the hiring process as soon as possible in order to get the best of the best," Madonia said. "The principals have already screened applicants, and the top candidates have been called in for interviews."
On Tuesday, more than 50 parents and community members sent an open letter to Madonia, incoming superintendent Susan Birkenmaier, school board members and the press expressing their concern that experienced teachers were not being considered for the vacant positions, even though they have offered to work for entry-level pay.
"It is our opinion that the Board made a decision to hire only inexperienced teachers," the letter states. "Although the 113A financial plan says new staff must be hired at entry-level pay (BA1), we believe experienced teachers would accept entry level pay and would be better qualified for the positions than some inexperienced candidates. In this economy, workers in all industries are accepting less pay than they made before because they want to be employed in a field they enjoy. To pass them up and hire only inexperienced staff at the same price at which you could get more qualified, experienced workers, is a bad deal."
Last week, Madonia said it was his personal opinion that hiring experienced teachers at BA1, or entry-level, pay could create "inequity among teachers in the district." On Friday, however, he said all applicants had been considered, regardless of their level of experience.
"The principals reviewed all resumes and applications they received before calling people in for interviews," Madonia said. "The notion that we didn't consider certain applicants is inaccurate."
Madonia said the concerns from parents are based on the assumption that certain candidates "were automatically ruled out" because of their tenure.
"It would be against the law for me to comment on why specific candidates were not called in for interviews," he said. "What I can say on record is that we considered every application that came our way. We believe we have an excellent pool of candidates being interviewed for the positions."
Madonia said District 113A administrators are being mindful of the financial plan approved by the Illinois State Board of Education as they move forward with the hiring process.
He said the plan projects a savings of more than $500,000 by replacing the retiring tenured teachers with individuals who qualify for BA1, or entry-level, pay.
"Although it is not specifically stated in the document, the financial plan uses projections that assume we would reduce expenditures by hiring at the BA1 level," Madonia said.
According to Madonia, District 113A administrators followed the "standard hiring practices" used in recent years, and which begins with the three principals, continues with interviews in the district's central office and concludes with recommendations to the District 113A Board of Education.
Madonia said the board has not yet reviewed any hiring recommendations for the 2012-13 school year.
Although the letter sent Tuesday claims District 113A board members have discussed hiring practices in closed session, Madonia and Board President Dave Molitor denied that any "inappropriate discussion" has occurred.
"No decisions have been made during closed session. The board makes decisions in public, as required by state law," Madonia said.
Molitor said the board has yet to see any recommendations from the administration, but will move forward with the district's best interests in mind.
"I can understand that people are frustrated, but the board will continue to be responsible make the best decisions possible as we work to improve our financal position," Molitor said.
The District 113A school board will hold its monthly business meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Old Quarry Middle School, 16100 W. 127th St. The hiring of teachers for the 2012-13 school year is not scheduled to be discussed in open session.
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