Urbana District 116

URBANA — By 5-1-1 vote — with Ravi Hasanadka the lone “no” and Brian Ogolsky abstaining — the Urbana school board extended Superintendent Jennifer Ivory-Tatum’s contract by three years at the tail end of this week’s meeting.

Jennifer Ivory-Tatum

The terms of the contract, which runs through June 30, 2027, call for the fourth-year superintendent to be paid a salary of $208,280, excluding employee-paid retirement costs, the district said. With those costs added, her total compensation will be $228,800, effective July 1.

Future cost-of living increases — aligned with the Consumer Price Index — won’t be lower than 2 percent or higher than 4 percent, the district said.

Ivory-Tatum’s original five-year deal wasn’t set to expire until June 30, 2024. Angi Franklin, the district’s assistant superintendent for HR, said “it’s not unusual for our district” to work on extensions with more than a year left — especially in challenging hiring environments like this one.

(Champaign's Unit 4 extended Shelia Boozer's three-year contract last September, 15 months after she was hired as superintendent).

“This is also the same process followed by other high-profile positions in leadership,” Franklin said. “In an educator and administrator shortage, school districts and other organizations want to secure their leaders so they don’t get stolen away by our competitors.”

Two district residents speaking during the public comment portion of this week’s meeting also questioned the vote coming at the end of the current board’s final meeting together.

Four members — Ogolsky, Brenda Carter, Anne Hall and Lara Orr — opted not to run for re-election on April 4. Three new members — Ben Baxley, Sheri Langendorf and Citlaly Stanton — will be sworn in at next month’s meeting, with a fourth member likely to be appointed at a later date.

Ogolsky recused himself from this week’s vote on extending Ivory-Tatum’s deal, saying he felt it should be the next board’s decision to make.

Franklin said the only reason the extension didn’t come to a vote “a few months" earlier is because the district was engaged with its teachers on a new deal and “Dr. Ivory-Tatum refused to put her contract extension on the board agenda because the teacher contract had not yet been approved.”

Added Franklin: “She didn’t feel it was ethical to have her contract approved before the teachers contract was approved.