Rep. Franks: Board of Education is 'failing taxpayers' with Tony Smith's contract

Image 1 of 2

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Despite an outcry of anger and criticism, and Illinois’ financial crisis, the Board of Education says it won't renegotiate a pricey contract it handed to new Illinois school superintendent Tony Smith.

On Monday, a letter delivered to State Representative Jack Franks from the State Board of Education says it has decided not to tear up Smith’s controversial contract.

"I think that's the wrong decision. We had Dr. Smith in our committee. He said he was willing to have his contract opened up," said Rep. Franks.

The $225,000 dollar, three and a half year contract includes seven weeks’ vacation, free health insurance, and an $11,000 dollar annual stipend that essentially gives smith pension benefits equal to the old state pension plan that new teachers can no longer get.

All that while, the state is billions of dollars in the red and teachers are under pressure to give up pension benefits.

The Reverend James Meeks, who heads the state school board, told FOX 32 the board recently discussed Smith's contract in closed session, but decided against asking to renegotiate it.

"It works both ways," Meeks said. "When you re-open the contract, (Dr. Smith) could ask for more money."

Representative Franks said the board is failing taxpayers.

"We ought to consider termination, because the fact is the deal he got was too rich for the taxpayers. And it's not fair," Rep. Franks said.

Dr. Smith's appointment was supported by Governor Bruce Rauner, but a Rauner spokesperson has said the governor had nothing to do with the contract.

Lawmakers have no power to hire or fire the state superintendent, but Franks has suggested they could zero out his salary in the budget.