Public Watchdog.org

Heinz’s Extension And Raise One More D-64 Charade

07.06.15

In our 07.01.15 post we wrote about the almost reflexive propensity of a majority of the current Park Ridge-Niles Elementary School Board members to run into closed sessions and hide from the taxpayers whenever they can get away with it, and especially when they are discussing how to spend more of the taxpayers’ money.

Today we’re addressing the charade by which that Board contrived a one-year contract extension and a raise for rookie superintendent Laurie Heinz.

As we did in our July 2 post, we refer you to the June 22 meeting videotape as the best evidence of how disingenuously clueless (or cluelessly disingenuous?) this Board can be. The Heinz discussion commences at the 4:01:04 mark with Board president Tony Borrelli – such a cheerleader for Heinz that we wonder where he was hiding his pom poms – announcing how he “wanted to read something” about Heinz’s performance.

That “something” turns out to be a five-minute gush about Heinz and her alleged accomplishments, all of which Borrelli claims were documented in two separate Board evaluations, one at mid-year and the other at year-end, neither of which were part of the June 22 Board meeting packet, or “Report.” Nor could we find them anywhere else on the District’s website.

According to Borrelli, there were a few wrinkles noted in Heinz’s mid-year evaluation that needed a little extra ironing. But by year-end “it was 4th of July, the fireworks went off!”

Yes, that’s what he says on the video.

The absence of those evaluations from the meeting packets and D-64 website leads us to believe that neither Borrelli nor Heinz wanted to subject those evaluations to public scrutiny. That’s consistent with D-64’s institutionalized disrespect for the taxpayers who pay the bills for what appears to be a stagnant-to-declining operation, suggesting that whatever “fireworks” Heinz’s rookie-year performance might have set off were little more than a couple of bottle rockets and one stray Black Cat.

But that was more than enough to keep this Board “ooh”-ing and “ahh”-ing, as if watching a display of pyrotechnics engineered by the famed Grucci Family.

Borrelli insists that “[t]he entire attitude of the District has changed” thanks to Heinz, and that there has been “[s]ignificant improvement in the growth MAP scores” so that “[t]he needle, therefore, is moving” – a pointed response to a statement in our 06.22.15 post that “as best as we can tell, Heinz has failed to move the needle of student/District achievement or rankings even one click upward.”

Borrelli concludes with “[t]his District is lucky to have Dr. Heinz as our superintendent.”

We’d love to agree, really we would.  Because that would mean not only that the District’s students might be getting a better education but, also, that the District’s taxpayers might be getting more property value for the bigger and bigger property tax bucks the District keeps demanding, thanks to your unfriendly neighborhood School Board.

Unfortunately, this Borrelli-led Board is barely (if at all) any more transparent than the traditionally opaque boards of the past. Hence, not only are Heinz’s evaluations missing from the Board packets and District website, but so are those “rigorous” goals and standards that Board allegedly set for Heinz during this just-concluded school year. And we can’t seem to find the details of those reportedly rockin’ MAP scores, either.

From the sound of things, however, all those matters were discussed in the closed session at the May 11, 2015 meeting (Mark Eggemann and Tom Sotos voting against the closed session); and in the closed session at the May 18, 2015 meeting (Eggemann and Sotos voting “no”); and in the closed session at the June 1, 2015 meeting (Eggemann voting “no”); and in the closed session at the June 8, 2015 meeting (Eggemann and Sotos voting “no”). All the while, the taxpayers saw and heard nothing.

Nevertheless, at the 4:06:22 mark the rest of the Board members take over from Borrelli before voting unanimously to give Heinz a one-year contract extension worth more than $250,000. And beginning at the 4:09:12 mark (when Borrelli tries unsuccessfully to herd the Board into closed session), there’s more gushing until a 4-3 Board majority (Borrelli, Bob Johnson, Vickie Lee and Scott Zimmerman v. Eggemann, Dathan Paterno and Sotos) gives her an approximately $4,200 raise and some undisclosed but larger additional payment that will provide her with “full” health care coverage.

If you detect some schizophrenia there, join the club.

And as if the lily needed any further gilding, cheerleader Borrelli, still sans pom poms, attempts further justification of the Board’s group psychosis by noting that Heinz purportedly was hired at a “below market” rate, despite making as much in her rookie season as her vastly more experienced predecessor made in his final year; and that, even with the raise, she was still being paid “below market.”

Hey, you Board folks! If a “market” salary for Heinz is so important that Borrelli has to make special mention about it, why didn’t you leave Heinz with two years remaining on her contract and use some of that $250K-plus contract extension money to get her salary up to “market” – whatever that might be?

Oh, wait, we know that answer: that would have been the prudent thing to do!

This particular Kabuki would not be complete, however, without a few words from Heinz herself, who demonstrates her gratitude – at the 4:16:12 mark, between the extension vote and the raise vote – by insisting that, even though “the community” might expect significant improvements in student achievement and school rankings as a benchmark of her success, “[s]tudent achievement is one part of my job, it is not the sum total of a superintendent’s role.”

Yes, Ms. Heinz, student achievement is not the only measure of your success. But you darn well better realize that it’s Job One…by a mile.

Now, if only a majority of Board members could figure that out.

To read or post comments, click on title.

11 comments so far

Unbelievable. The soup, the nuts, and everything in between. Ms. Heinz’s comment is the cherry on top. She’s confusing activities with action steps and basic functions with goal achievement. Yes, it all has to be done, but for $250K and passels of perks, one would think she’d keep the customer in the forefront of her thinking.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You meant “customerS,” right…because the student is the beneficiary “customer” and the taxpayer is the payor “customer.”

After reading this post and watching the last half hour of the video I am appalled by what passes for good judgment and common sense by our school board members, and offended by all the secrecy that obviously went into the deliberations over rewarding Heinz for nothing tangible besides showing up. Very disturbing and discouraging.

Why did Eggemann and Sotos vote not to go into closed session but then go along with the secrecy? Why didnt they let the taxpayers know what was going on while it was being discussed and make sure the terms of Heinz’s deal were included in the meeting report?

EDITOR’S NOTE: We can only guess that they’re too new and not confident enough of themselves and what they should do.

It never ceases to amaze me how most of your posts about D64 get so few comments compared to your posts about the city or the park district. 35% of our tax bill (v. 10% for city) yet people keep giving D64 a pass.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nor us, which is why D-64 (and D-207) keep getting away with taxing and spending more and more while apparently producing less and less.

Has anyone seen or found the evaluations that allegedly document Heinz’s performance?

EDITOR’S NOTE: IF they existed, and IF they stated what they are alleged to have stated, we would have assumed that Board president Borrelli, with the fervant approval of Supt. Heinz, would have posted them on the D-64 home page and included them in every Board packet – along with those “goals and objectives” that she allegedly “knocked out of the park.” But that doesn’t appear to be the case.

And, sadly, it’s looking more and more like Dr. Borrelli has become Mr. Heyde when it comes to disrespecting the taxpayers.

Why can’t our officials just tell us the truth. These aren’t nuclear secrets or our strategy for dealing with ISIS. The idea that the school board would even consider discussing Heinz’s contract extension and raise in private rather than in public makes it look like they had something to hide.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Of course they had something to hide. Frankly, they had a lot of things to hide, starting with what we assume to be the superficiality of their analysis, their lack of scruples when it comes to foolishly spending taxpayer money, their shameless pandering to the rookie superintendent, and the group psychosis that was formerly led by Heyde and now led by Borrelli.

Because if everything really were on the up-and-up, and if they truly believed in transparency and acccountability, there would be no reason to hide in multiple closed sessions and conceal those documents that purportedly justified their decisions.

You have to remember that Borrelli ‘hand picked’ this superintendent and he will support her all the way. To do otherwise would make him quite the visible fool that he is!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sorry, but as best we can tell Heinz was “hand picked” not just by Dr. Borrelli but also by Mr. Heyde and the rest of the prior Board: Scott Zimmerman, Vickie Lee, Terry Cameron, Dan Collins and Dathan Paterno. And only Collins voted “no” on her compensation package.

According to the Chicago Tribune this week, the new Illinoi State School Superintendent Tony Smith will be paid a salary of $225,000 per year to oversee Illinois’ public school system. Now in Park Ridge our District 64 Superintendent will receive $250,000. How can this be the case? It would be similar to paying the mayor of Park Ridge more than the governor of Illinois. This is an outrage and once again the majority of the board utterly failing in their fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers. Does anyone ever do any due diligence with on Board? I too am amazed at the near complete lack of citizen outrage over such a incompetent financial decision, yet alone done behind closed doors. Such a sad state of affairs all around.

EDITOR’S NOTE: And the governor makes $177,412. And he gets blamed even for stuff he does right, while school superintendents are Teflon-coated.

It’s as if, after years/decades of this buffoonery, many people just throw in the towel and adopt a “Forget it, Jake; it’s Chinatown” approach.

If you’re a salesman but don’t make sales, you don’t make any money. If you’re a doctor and make mistakes, you get sued for malpractice. The same goes for lawyers. None of those people get multi-year contracts, much less get them rolled over each year. That’s one reason why this superintendent situation seems ridiculous to me.

And the fact that the governor of Illinois makes almost $80,000 less than the D64 superintendent is absurd.

Mr. Egan:

Just a minor correction. You stated “a majority of the board utterly failing….”. PD states the following…..”at the 4:06:22 mark the rest of the Board members take over from Borrelli before voting UNAMIMOUSLY to give Heinz a one-year contract extension worth more than $250,000″.

It would appear that rather that majority you should have used the word ALL.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “ALL” voted to extend her contract by another year, a “majority” voted to give her a raise and additional health benefits.

How crazy are the votes of Eggemann, Paterno and Sotos to give Heinz a 1-year extension worth $250,000 or more but then vote against giving her a raise for $4,000 plus some additional health insurance? That makes no sense whatsoever, so I’m not sure whether I’m more ticked off by Borrelli, Johnson, Lee and Zimmerman for being complete spendthrifts or the other three for being goofy about it.



Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>