State board expected to vote on ending Koch contract

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Christopher Koch

Christopher Koch

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is expected to vote on whether to end Superintendent Christopher Koch’s contract during its Wednesday meeting.

On the board’s agenda are items related to the superintendent’s contract and a severance agreement.  An ISBE spokesman would not specify whether the severance agreement is for Koch, who declined to speak to Catalyst on Monday.

Two weeks ago the board met behind closed doors at board chairman James Meeks’ South Side church to discuss personnel issues, a special meeting that some insiders said was likely related to Koch’s tenure. Five of the board’s nine members were recently appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, who told the Chicago Tribune last week that he has been pushing for a “transformational” new superintendent and has had someone “specifically in mind … for a long time.”

Rauner also declined to say whether the candidate he has in mind is Tony Smith, the former superintendent of schools in Oakland, Calif., who moved to Chicago in 2013 and now heads the W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation. Several people involved in state education policy have suggested that Smith might be next in line; Smith also serves on the education committee of Rauner’s transition team.

Smith has not returned several phone calls from Catalyst since late March. A Rauner spokeswoman declined to comment.

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