June 19th, 2020 6:06 PM
Martha Ryan-Toye | File 2019
By Bob Skolnik
When Martha Ryan-Toye was hired in 2016 to be the superintendent of Riverside Elementary School District 96, the Board of Education was looking for someone to bring some stability and calm, as well as educational leadership, to the district.
On June 17 they rewarded Ryan-Toye with a new five-year contract, the longest contract a school board can legally enter into with a superintendent in Illinois.
"We're definitely familiar with her work, we're definitely very appreciative of her work and look forward to continuing to work with her for the next five years," said Dan Hunt, the president of the District 96 school board before the school board voted 5 to 0 to approve the contract.
Ryan-Toye said she appreciated the new contract and is looking forward to doing more work for the district.
"I know that when I started in the summer of 2016 we had set a goal that leadership stability would be important for District 96," Ryan-Toye told the Landmark.
At the end of the June 17 school board meeting, Ryan-Toye thanked the board for the new contract.
"This is just a tremendous district," Ryan-Toye said. "It is really what I had wanted when I thought of being a superintendent, in terms of working with a very engaged community."
Ryan-Toye still had one year remaining on her current contract. Like pro sports teams, school boards typically don't want to have a superintendent go into the final year of their contract without an extension in place. Ryan-Toye's new contract runs through June 30, 2025.
Board member Jeff Miller, who was president of the District 96 school board in 2016 when Ryan-Toye was hired, said the superintendent has worked out very well.
"I think it's a very good thing for the district to have that stability," Miller said. "That was one of the intentions for the longer contract."
Unlike some school administrators, who move frequently from job to job and district to district in search of more pay and a broader platform, Ryan-Toye has a track record of staying in one place.
Before being hired by District 96, Ryan-Toye worked for River Forest School District 90 for 22 years. She was District 90's director of special education for 16 years before moving up to become director of student services for six years.
"I'm a stayer," Ryan-Toye said.
Hunt said Ryan-Toye has helped the district take steps to improve its facilities. This summer a major addition to Ames School is being built and small additions or improvements are being made at the district's three other elementary schools.
"She's already had a great impact on the district in terms of what we've been able to do with our facilities," Hunt said. "Now I guess we're getting to a point where facilities are finished here, we're looking for the other side to flesh out. She has the palette, I guess, we'll see how the picture is painted from here."
Ryan-Toye says that she is proud of having a cohesive and collaborative leadership team. No building principal has left the district since Ryan-Toye has come aboard as superintendent.
She brings a warm, friendly demeanor to her job and always seems to project calm and confidence.
She will be paid $199,449 next year, a 3-percent raise from her current salary of $193,640.
Other district administrators, who all have one-year contracts, also are receiving 3-percent raises next year. Future raises for Ryan-Toye are at the discretion of the school board.
Custodians get 1-year deal
At the June 17 school board meeting, board members also voted 5-0 to approve a new one-year contact with the district's custodians, who are represented by Teamsters Union Local 700.
Given the uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic, the administration and the union decided that a one-year contract, which is basically an extension of the current contract that was scheduled to expire on June 30, made the most sense right now.
"We really don't know where we're going to be right now in a year, so we're looking to just set this for a year and then move forward, see where we're at a year from now," Hunt said.
Each custodian working for the district will receive a 3-percent raise on July 1 so long as they have worked for District 96 for more than six months. Any custodian reaching their 10th, 15th or 20th anniversary of employment with the district after July 1 will receive a one-time longevity bonus equal to 3.5 percent of their annual pay.
The new starting pay for any new custodian hires will be $16.05 an hour.