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Halloran's contract in limbo

Union unanimous in 'vote of confidence'

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 8:01 a.m. CST
Caption
(Herald File Photo)
Superintendent Dr. Pat Halloran applauds the student body for their accomplishments during the Morris Community High School Honors Recognition Night at the end of the 2011-12 school year.

The Morris Community High School District 101 board has just over a month to make a decision on Superintendent Dr. Pat Halloran's contract, but board members have yet to bring a pact to a vote.

According to Halloran's contract found online at morrishs.org., the Board of Education has until March 1 to notify Halloran if it does not want to renew his contract. Without notification, Halloran's contract is automatically renewed for one year.

"At this time, (the contract) is under discussion and the board, unfortunately, has not been able to come to a consensus at this time," said board president Dennis Best.

Halloran's current contract is a four-year deal from July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2013. It includes an amendment from May 2010 for a decrease in his contractual pay raises. The amendment changed his raise from 4 percent to 1 percent for the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years.

For the 2012 school year, Halloran's salary was $134,653, according to documents at morrishs.org.

His current contract was approved unanimously Jan. 12, 2009, about two months before the March 1 deadline and nearly six months before the contract he was under then was to expire, according to minutes obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The board at that time was made up of completely different board members than now.

At a neighboring school district, Coal City Unit District 1, Superintendent Dr. Kent Bugg's contract was extended another five years in June 2012. His contract was not set to expire until June 30, 2013, and was renewed for July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2017.

"We began this process around June or July (2012), and it's been going on this long," said Morris board president Best.

Halloran said it would not be appropriate for him to comment on this situation at this time.

Last week, the Morris Community High School Education Association, the teachers' union, submitted a "Voice of the People" to the Morris Daily Herald, followed by a press release, declaring their support for Halloran as their superintendent.

"For the past nine years, he has led us through major financial challenges, while we face higher expectations and increased accountability. We know how fortunate we are to work for a superintendent who earned his way to his position by spending his entire career in education," the union said in its letter to the editor.

"For nearly three decades, he has been a classroom teacher, a building principal, an assistant superintendent, and a superintendent. As a result of his extensive experience, he sees the big picture from all perspectives and is uniquely qualified to continue helping us move forward," the letter continued.

The union took a "vote of confidence" last week, where 100 percent of the present members voting said they had confidence in Halloran. Of the union's 59 members, 56 were present.

Halloran's approachability is one of his biggest assets, said Craig Ortiz, vice president of the union Monday.

"He's very approachable and very easy to work with," he said.

Ortiz continued that the board's lack of a vote on their superintendent's contract has the union concerned on what this means for their leader. They are also concerned with the small amount of time the board has allotted if Halloran is not retained to find a replacement. 

"Our membership sees this and is concerned with what putting up a one-year deal says about our learning community," said union president Joe Blumberg.

If the board does not make a decision by March 1, Halloran will automatically get a one year renewal. The school board's next regular meeting is Feb. 11.

Best said the board would be going into executive session that evening for discussion and "possibly a decision of some sort out of executive session, or no decision at all, which would be an indication to what direction we'd go."

The union's opinion is respected by the board and will be considered in the board's discussion, he said.

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