The Toledo Board of Education delayed a vote tonight on contract extensions for most members of the superintendent's cabinet, but board members claimed their actions were not an indication of a lack of board support for the administrators.
The board was set to vote on three-year contract extensions for four top administrators - Chief Academic Officer Jim Gault, Assistant Superintendents Romules Durant and Brian Murphy, and Chief Human Resources Officer Cheryl Spieldenner. Their contract extensions were approved by the board's human resources committee, which includes board members Bob Vasquez and board president Brenda Hill.
But Ms. Hill apparently had second thoughts, and asked to delay votes on the contracts.
"I think the board members need more time to discuss it, especially since we are in the process of considering a new superintendent," Ms. Hill said.
She explained her contradictory actions by saying she wasn't thinking about the timing when she approved the contracts in committee.
"It just got past me at the board meeting," she said.
Mr. Vasquez objected to the delay, saying the human resources committee approved forwarding the contract extensions to the full board. The timing of the contracts, he said, did not "get past him."
"I think these cabinet members...have shown they've done a wonderful job," he said. "I think that delaying this gives the impression to them that we don't value their contributions, and I just think that we should move forward with it."
Ms. Hill said that she believes the cabinet members work hard, but that she believes the board needs time to discuss their contracts.
Board member Larry Sykes pointing out that the four cabinet members' contracts don't need to be renewed until the end of June. The board ultimately voted to delay the contract extensions, with only Mr. Vasquez in opposition.
Details of the potential contract extensions were not released.
The move comes at a somewhat precarious time for relations between the board and district administrators. Superintendent Jerome Pecko will leave the district this summer when his contract expires. Though he announced his own resignation, he had said he wanted to stay with the district, as long as he had board support. Ms. Hill has refused to say whether the board wanted Mr. Pecko to stay or had planned to offer him a contract extension.
In recent months, some board members have taken antagonistic stances against the cabinet, and nearly lost their second-highest administrator. Mr. Gault was among the top candidates for the Rossford superintendent position, but the Rossford board ultimately passed him over for two other finalists.
The four cabinet members whose contracts were up for renewal declined to comment about the board's action. But Don Yates, president of the Toledo Association of Administrative Personnel, said that the board needs to recognize the importance of stability in leadership.
"I think that your administrators and educational leaders in this district have done a heck of a job in the last two years," Mr. Yates said. "I would hope that we would extend to them the respect that they deserve."
Cabinet members are not unionized, and are not represented by the TAAP union. The cabinet also includes the business manager and the superintendent's administrative assistant, but their contracts aren't up until 2015. The treasurer's contract runs out next year.
The board will meet on Thursday for a special meeting to discuss the search for a replacement for Mr. Pecko.