More answers in D86, but we don't like them

The good news: the Hinsdale High School District 86 Board has finally announced the fate of Superintendent Tammy Prentiss, who has been on paid administrative leave since mid-May.

The bad news: district taxpayers will foot the bill for essentially two superintendents during the 2023-24 school year.

Board members last week voted 5-2 to continue to pay Prentiss, who earns $277,000 a year plus benefits, through March 2024. They’ve already paid Chris Covino $10,000 for his work as acting superintendent from May through June 30, his last day in the district before taking another job. And they will need to pay Jason Markey, the new assistant superintendent for academics, for his work as acting superintendent until they find an interim superintendent, who, of course, they also will need to pay. Assuming they hire a retired superintendent for that post, that could add up to $120,000 for 120 days of work.

And then there are the legal bills from Robbins Schwartz, the law firm the board hired May 15 to provide “legal and other services related to the employment, compensation, performance and potential discipline or dismissal of a current employee.”

The board has spent more than seven hours in closed session meetings since hiring the firm, and we have to wonder (until our FOIA request is answered) how much time attorneys spent at those meetings — and at what rate. We’re also anxious to see how much the firm charged to draft the agreement.

This is an awfully expensive way to get Prentiss to leave the district a mere four months earlier than her announced retirement day of July 31, 2024. And what will the district get for the $23,000 a month they are paying her?

She “shall be reasonably available with appropriate notice to perform administrative duties requiring licensure in consultation with the board president,” according to the agreement.

“The board will continue to partner with Ms. Prentiss in her remaining time as a district employee to ensure a smooth leadership transition,” according to a joint statement that is part of the agreement.

Once an actual interim superintendent is on staff, it sounds like she won’t to be doing much of anything at all.

Speaking of an interim superintendent, the board can’t hire one soon enough, in our opinion. The assistant superintendent for academics should be focused on just that — academics — not dealing with administration of a district with a $131 million budget and more than 600 employees.

We know board President Cat Greenspon and board member Kay Gallo have not been fans of Prentiss for quite some time. But once Prentiss announced her retirement date, we assumed the two could find a way to work with her for the 15 months she had left on her contract. Boy were we wrong.

Because this is a personnel matter, we don’t have all the details and are unable to obtain documents that would elucidate the matter, due to exceptions to the Freedom of Information Act.

We do know one thing for certain. We’ve never seen anything like this.