Contract Extension?

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At the end of this month, Dr. Dennis Thompson will officially begin his third year as district boss. Thompson says an agreement has been reached with school board president Nancy Kalchbrenner, one that would sign Thompson on for two more years without a pay raise.

"When you have a superintendent who may not be there for more than another year, it's very difficult to plan for an organization to move forward. I'm pleased with the progress that the board and the administration made in moving the district forward," says Thompson.

Kalchbrenner says the move will assure a sense of stability and allow the board to focus on other issues this summer, but board vice president Jay Nellis thinks it's premature to extend Thompson's contract before a performance review.

“After his first year in the position, we've not had a performance review yet for him this year, and I think that should be conducted before there's any discussion of extending a contract," says Nellis.

Nellis says most board members think an assurance of continuity in leadership will encourage the passage of November's referendum, which asks voters to maintain the same tax rates for the next five years. Thompson says a loss of more than $14 million a year would be catastrophic.

"It's critical to our continued improvement, because it allows us at least a predictable stream of income," says Thompson.

Thompson says over the past two years the districts' most critical problem, it's financial situation, has been addressed. Next month, Rockford will be off the state financial watch list.

"The financial stability has given us the ability to put forth an academic structure which is promoting student achievement and development. I'm very pleased with the direction we're going there. We still have some things we want to add to that and I intend to do something of a complete review for the board at our July meeting," says Thompson.

Kalchbrenner says last year's performance review of the superintendent was very positive, and another review will take place this fall. A vote on a contract extension is expected Tuesday night.