The North Babylon school board withdrew its planned approval of the contract extension of superintendent Glen Eschbach during a board meeting Thursday, following calls by parents who opposed it.
School board president Daniel Caroleo said Eschbach, who declined to comment after the meeting, asked that the board not vote on the contract. It’s not known why he made the request or when the contract will be voted on.
Eschbach approached the board because he wants to retire after a $69 million bond that passed in December 2017 is paid off. That won’t be at the end of his current contract, Caroleo said after the meeting. With a contract extension, Eschbach — whose annual salary is $258,079 — would be superintendent until Feb. 10, 2026. His current contract expires June 30, 2023.
"We have a bond going on," Caroleo said. "We didn’t want to lose him."
Also at the board meeting, GeriAnn McNamee, a trustee since 2013, announced her resignation. She said though she has appreciated support from the community, she has felt "attacked" on social media by parents and teachers who questioned why the board intended to extend Eschbach’s contract.
Kathy Dein, president of the North Babylon Teachers’ Organization, said it’s the board’s prerogative to renew Eschbach’s contract early. The district’s 408 teachers have been without a contract since last June, while 140 paraprofessionals have been without one for nearly two years.
Lois Emerick, the paraprofessionals unit president, delayed contract negotiations with the district because of the pandemic. Talks between the unit and district will begin Feb. 23.
"If the district wants to get contracts done right now, we’re more than ready to keep talking," Dein said in a statement. "As a unit, we have continually sought out the district and school board for negotiations and have met with very little progress thus far."
Some parents said they learned about the planned Eschbach contract renewal through social media and felt students should be the priority.
Michelle LeBlanc has a son, a sixth-grader at Robert Moses Middle School, but has kept him home because he doesn’t feel safe with students testing positive for COVID-19.
"There’s so many other things that need to be worked out besides his contract," she said. "The timing isn’t right."
Erika Escobar has a daughter in the first grade and a son in the third grade at Parliament Place Elementary. She called the renewal "a rush."
"We have other concerns with COVID," Escobar said.