Following a 1 1/2-hour regular meeting and a 41-minute closed-door executive session, the Highland School Board re-approved pay raises on Monday it originally awarded to 14 administrators last month.
Board members Robert Miller and David Raymond voted against the pay hikes, which amounted to 1.8 percent for 13 people.
HHS Principal Karen Gauen, who earlier announced she will be retiring after the 2017-18 school year, was awarded a 6-percent pay increase, because she is in the pre-retirement years that provide for her to receive such an increase in each of the last three years of her contract.
Superintendent Mike Sutton will forgo a pay raise this year. During last fall’s contentious six-day teachers strike, the first ever teachers strike in the district, Sutton had agreed to take a 2-percent pay increase or the same pay raise teachers received in their latest contract settlement, whichever was less. However, Sutton later agreed to not take any pay raise as long as the district was in deficit spending.
Miller said he voted no on the raises because he was upset with how the issue was approved by the board last month while he was on vacation.
“I do not oppose the administrators getting pay raises,” Miller said in an interview Tuesday morning.
The School Board reconsidered the pay hikes after Miller raised concerns over the legality of the July vote, including there being no mention of the raises on the agenda. Miller, who was voted onto the board in April, said he thought the omission violated the Illinois Opening Meetings Act.
“The Open Meeting Act requires an item to be listed on the formal agenda when a vote for approval is going to take place,” he said. “This serves as official notification to the public that action is forthcoming on a given topic and allows them an opportunity to comment on the matter before a final decision is made. I don’t believe the public was afforded this opportunity.”
Monday’s agenda clearly stated that the board would be re-considering the raises following executive session.
Miller also questions why some administrators have guaranteed travel reimbursements built into their contract, while teachers don’t have that same reimbursement.
School officials reported the July vote was 6-0. However, Raymond said he actually voted no last month and did so again this time around.
Raymond questioned the timing of the pay hikes.
“With the current financial problems of the district, I don’t think we should be (awarding the raises) at this time,” he said.