Scott Vetter Views the Johnnie Thomas Contract Renewal/Bonus Meeting of the District 155 High School Board

Crystal Lake Republican Precinct Committeeman attended last night’s meeting of the Crystal Lake High School District 155 Board of Education.

Here’s what he took away:

Johnnie Thomas Gets Contract Extended Two Years

Johnnie Thomas

Johnnie Thomas

Last night the D155 School Board addressed the evaluation and subsequent contract extension of Superintendent Dr. Johnnie Thomas. Before the board members retired, to a closed executive session, mid-meeting, to discuss this assessment and contract xtension,

President Ted Wagner asked if there was any discussion or comments to be made on the subject.

The only member to speak up was Rosemary Kurtz.

Rosemary Kurtz

Rosemary Kurtz

Mrs. Kurtz expressed a difficulty with adjourning to an executive session on the contract extension because the aspects and details of this extension had not been made public to the taxpayers.

She believed that the particulars of this coming executive session should have been released in the night’s agenda or included in the minutes of the past meeting.

She further stated that “with the present condition of the economy and the burden these decisions can have on the taxpayer, that it is only right to let them know what is being proposed as it will be an almost $500,000 decision in the end.”

Because of the lack of transparency, Mrs. Kurtz suggested that the executive session be tabled until the public could be better informed and be allowed to comment more on the issue.

Following Mrs. Kurtz’ comments, there were no other comments.

President Wagner motioned to adjourn for executive session.

All members voted yes, except Mrs. Rosemary Kurtz, and the board disappeared behind closed doors.

Ted Wagne

Ted Wagne

After a lengthy, more than 45 minute, closed-door meeting, this board returned to present their proposed contract extension. President Wagner was the first to speak and congratulated Dr. Thomas on a job well done in meeting his contractual goals and thanked him for a job well done.

President Wagner also stated that “our community and children are much better off because you are here.”

The board then proceeded to vote on whether Dr. Thomas met his contractual goals this past year and if his contract through 2018 should still be honored.

All members voted yes, except board member Adam Guss.

Rosemary Kurtz commented before the vote, that Dr. Thomas completed “most of his goals” and that she would be voting yes for this reason.

Before handing down the decree, on the contract extension, President Wagner discussed the contract changes which included the following:

  1. A two-year extension (instead of 3) through 2020.
  2. A 2% annual raise to extend through 2020.
  3. A reimbursement to Dr. Thomas’ 12 ½ days of unused vacation at his per Diem rate.
  4. Deletion from Dr. Thomas’ contract of his annual performance bonus of $16,000, starting with this year’s bonus, to equal a loss to Dr. Thomas of over $54,000 over the term of his contract.
    It was further noted that this loss of bonus to Dr. Thomas was proposed by Dr. Thomas himself.

The floor was then opened for discussion.

President Wagner explained that the performance bonus program, for Dr. Thomas, was hard to assess and maintain as viable so he agreed that Dr. Thomas’ bonus should be suspended.

Question President Wagner?

If Dr. Thomas’ CONTRACT is based on goals and his PERFORMANCE how is that contract then being assessed and maintained?

That was a very open ended comment, Mr. President.

Adam Guss

Adam Guss

Board member Adam Guss proclaimed that with almost two more years on Dr. Thomas’ existing contract, that there is still time to discuss any extension and that a vote at this stage was not pertinent.

He also went on to say that he does not agree with the other board members’ “rationale” behind this quick vote (something weknow nothing of because it was behind closed doors).

Although her disagreement with the proposal was more related to the fact that she didn’t believe Dr. Thomas should be losing any money, board member Amy Blazier also disagreed with the hasty vote.

Board member Rosemary Kurtz was the next to speak.

She stated that one of the discussions by the board, in executive session, was that Dr. Thomas was being pursued by other school districts and that D155 was “then compelled” to extend his contract to “secure his employment with D155” as it would be a great loss to the community that could not be filled.

Mrs. Kurtz went on to point out six individuals in the audience, hired by Dr. Thomas, who because of the boards’ faith in Dr. Thomas himself, “could walk right into his job if he indeed decided to take another position.”

The last comments were a showering of compliments from President Wagner to Dr. Thomas.

The motion was then carried, and the contract extension approved, with a vote of 4-3.

The three NO votes were made by Adam Guss, Amy Blazier, and Rosemary Kurtz.  [All three were elected last year.]

Amberwood homes behind the south side of the football bleachers.

Amberwood homes behind the south side of the football bleachers.

I believe, and as I stated in my comments[to be shown this weekend] before the vote, that this contract extension was a blatant hastened move to obstruct the impending future discussion of Dr. Thomas’ contract that might have ended with a “no renewal” vote because of his multi-million dollar gaffe.

Elections are coming soon for this board and because of Dr. Thomas’ multi-million dollar goof, there might be a change in the makeup of this board.

That being said, President Wagner wanted to make sure that Dr. Thomas was safe at least until 2020 (he wanted 2021).

I do see a few legal problems with this extension, beyond the fact that it was made under hurried and irrational circumstances. Illinois Statute, 105 ILCS 5/10-23.8, contains this limitation on contracted superintendents:

“no performance-based contract shall be extended or rolled over prior to its scheduled expiration unless all the performance and improvement goals contained in the contract have been met.”

Mrs. Kurtz specifically commented that Dr. Thomas completed “most of his goals.”


Scott Vetter

Scott Vetter

This will definitely be a subject that will be brought to the boards’ attention in the near future.

Another problem comes with this “rushed” contract extension.

The Illinois Supreme Court decision, in 1877, explicitly states that “multi-year contracts must be for a reasonable length (as determined by the factual context), they must be entered into in good faith, and they may not be used for wholly thwarting the will of the voters.”

If anyone out there can convince me that this had nothing to do with “thwarting the will of the voters”, I have a bridge to nowhere in Alaska to sell you!

It is time for YOU the voters, the taxpayers, to start attending these school board meetings.

With 38% and 25% of our property taxes going to D47 & D155, respectively, we are obligated to keep an eye on what this board decides to do with OUR millions and millions of dollars.

We must hold them accountable.

I for one believe that Dr. Thomas should have been released, but instead, we give him a 2% annual raise and a yearly salary in excess of $175,000, all guaranteed for the next four years.

Good for Dr. Thomas.

Good for you, sir.


Scott Vetter Views the Johnnie Thomas Contract Renewal/Bonus Meeting of the District 155 High School Board — 25 Comments

  1. That is another irresponsible action by the board and specifically Wagner.

    If Thomas has other offers then let him go!

    Did the board mention that they had many emails sent on to protest this?

    Probably not.

    This man has cost our district more money than he is worth!

  2. No mention of emails were made, Jgkm6.

    Not only that but even after Mrs. Kurtz suggested that, we the taxpayers, needed to be more informed about what was going on, the board snubbed their noses at her and marched behind Mr. Wagner, behind closed doors, to make their decree.

    It was quite disheartening.

    This board is out of control with this situation.

  3. No lose if he was let go, as anybody can be replaced in a few seconds.

    This kind of reminds me of when Cary’s Mayor/Board gave the out going admin Cam, a golden going away present.

    The bonding the head guys make costs us big $$$$$.

  4. Andrew Gasser…do you remember our first meeting?

    At the time the MCC Board was deciding Vicky’s contract before her current one expired by 14 months…on the very night they had to swear in new members of the board and say goodbye to the old cheerleaders….

    remember when we both ponted out the fact that the contract should have been negotiated under the new board’s guidance…

    Do ya see this Andrew???

    It is Deja Vous all over again!!!!

  5. I think there is a deeper “happening” with the Wagner/Board/Thomas love affair.

    There is something being hidden or someone holding something over someone’s head for there to be this much arrogance by Wagner with handling this whole thing.

    This whole action by Wagner and this board is quite suspect.

    Just my opinion.

  6. Scott, why the Hell were they deciding a contrct that is not mature within their term?

    It is wholly fouled up…..

    This contract should belong to the next administration…..

    it is that simple

  7. Guess you would not be in favor of the ten-year contract a Palatine school district signed with teachers either.

  8. Cal, if a contract is due to expire during a term then those elected to that term should negotiate it…

    what irritates me is these forward contracts negotiated today that do not begin until the next term…

    if folks cannot see the crime in that then let me talk to them as it is clearly WRONG…

    all contracts should be negotiated by the currently elected…

    so that means a 10 year contract is really really BAD….

    this should be easy for us to embrace..

  9. A shout out & hearty THANK YOU to Scott Vetter & Rosemary Kurtz for getting in the trenches, digging deep & pointing out to certain D155 board members how inappropriate their behavior has been on this issue.

    Ted Wagner & Gary Oberg have been on the board waaaay to long & don’t care what it costs the taxpayers.

    All of our boards need NEW BLOOD that will stand up to these People that have been in their positions so long they don’t Think about how their actions & decisions impact the taxpayers .

    So another thanks to Adam Guss, Amy Blazer & Rosemary Kurtz for pushing back & VOTING NO !

    With a 4 to 3 vote this could have been tabled for more discussion.

    To the rest of the board I say, SHAME ON YOU !

  10. When were the employment contracts last updated for some McHenry County employees such as Peter Austin, Joe Korpalski, Ralph Sauerbaugh?

  11. This D155 corruption knows no bounds.

    What does Thomas have on Wagner and the rest of the “old” board?

    Were they all fully in the know on the bleachers debacle and are now rewarding Thomas for taking all of the heat related to it?

    Adam Guss, Amy Blazer & Rosemary Kurtz…

    thanks for standing up to something that is obviously wrong.

  12. This I know.

    An offer was made to me, by an Attorney, to pay off a Judge for custody.

    One of the people involved in making the bleacher decision is related to one of the people who made the offer to accept a bribe.

    So, corruption is real and rampant in McHenry County.

    A full disclosure of financials is in order.

    Follow the money, and you will have your answers.

  13. I’m a fan now.

    If that is ‘obstuctionist’ behavior we need ALOT
    More of it with all the school boards in this county.

    They are out of control & have been for decades.

    Let’s all jump on the ‘obstuctionist’ bandwagon & stop
    This insane spending.

  14. Funny- no one commented on the fact his contract was rolled back.

    He actually lost money- it is no longer a goals based performance.

    Changing leadership is not something that can be done in 2 seconds as one comment suggests.

    Look at the college… it all began because of a ever changing president- which I am sure none of you remember- between Walter Packard and Smith there were 4 + Presidents.

    That is 6 presidents in one year.

    That destabilizes a work group.

    That costs money and allows for dumb decisions.

    I disagree with being granted the unused vacation time.

    But this looks like a review that was corrective not a love fest- he loss money and got a forward increase of 2% that would generally be seen as underperforming .

  15. A raise is a raise is a raise. A bonus is not a guarantee.

    It is not his salary.





    Or plain idiocy!!!!!

    Pick one, but it is ONE!

    The reason this country is dying is because the elected spend others’ money like it’s chicken feed.

    If it were their OWN money, not the taxpayers money, this Thomas would have been long gone.

    That is a fact Jack!

    Bottom line!

    All decisions, pertaining to the taxpayers’ money should be monitored no different than a CEO watching his stocks.


    This CEO Says “YOU’RE FIRED”!

    Everyone can be replaced!

    Is your last name Wagner, Inish???

  16. Contract not rolled back.

    This is an extension.


  17. Inish, changing leadership can be an issue & cause ‘destabilization’.

    However, when leaders dig in their heels, act arrogantly & don’t listen to 3 out of 6 people on the board, what does that saying about the leader(s)?

    Wagner took the South HS bleacher situation to the limit legally & Financially & pushed this situation pretty far too.

    No one would stop Wagner & Oberg from coming to board Meetings & adding their two cents, when they ARE replaced.

    If they REALLY care that much, they should/could continue To mentor, but by sitting in the audience seat & therefore Having a non-voting perspective.

  18. I don’t think Thomas has anything on the board.

    I think Thomas is the puppet of Ted Wegner.

    The last 2 superintendents have been folks with zero ties to our community.

    Previous superintendents lived in the area, sent their own children to 155 schools and had previously taught in the district.

    Hiring administrators from outside our district has given the board more control.

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