J. B. Young Opportunity Center in Davenport is home to the Davenport Community School District administrative offices.

Davenport’s new superintendent, Robert Kobylski, will start off his tenure with a salary of $239,000 per year; the school board approved the three year contract 5-1-1 at the board meeting Monday night.

While director Allison Beck gave an “enthusiastic yes” and the other board members all approved the contract, director Daniel Gosa said that while he supports the new superintendent, he did not agree with the contract.

Robert Kobylski

Robert Kobylski

“I’m going to vote no on this because I think it’s too generous for where we are in the district right now, with budget cuts and everything else,” Gosa said while phoning in for the meeting. “I do support the new superintendent. I just don’t support the contract.”

Director Clyde Mayfield was not present to vote. Kobylski begins June 1, and his contract extends through May 31, 2022.

The board also approved a number of personnel changes, including the three certified staff and nine classified staff who elected to take the district’s second early retirement incentive.

“We are going to make the necessary reductions inside of our buildings and follow our bargain agreement,” said interim superintendent TJ Schneckloth.

The board approved a “drastic” two-year plan to cut $13 million, as mandated by the School Budget Review Committee. The plan called for the reduction of at least 83 certified staff members, whether through retirement, natural attrition or layoffs.

“We understand, fully, the human impact that this has,” union representative Toby Paone said via phone call. “Both sides are treating this very seriously and very sensitively, because it affects the livelihoods of a lot of people. We want to do it the right way so the effect is as minimal as possible.”  

In the initial early retirement incentive from early January, 31 certified staff members, two administrators and 26 classified staff members took the deal, which was fewer than predicted by Paone.

Even with the 34 certified staff members retiring early, nearly 50 more positions must be cut through attrition and layoffs.

Paone said the district and union has set aside four days — Monday through Thursday — to sit together and put together the “staffing matrix” for every building to determine which positions need to be filled. They will then look at seniority and certification.

“I’ve been describing it this way: It’s like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle. You won’t know the results until every piece has been accounted for,” he said via phone call. “On the teacher side, there are about 1,250 pieces that have to be included.”

Paone said the day to start alerting staff of layoffs has not been set yet.

“If we do finish it by, say Thursday, the following day, theoretically, layoff notices could be given out that day, but that’s also the day before spring break,” he said. “The question becomes, do you hand a letter of layoff before spring break, or do you do it after? We haven’t crossed that bridge yet. ... Certainly by mid-March, this process should be ready.”