Former SD103 superintendent returning as Washington principal
By Steve Metsch
Carol Baker is returning to Lyons School District 103 in a different
position than the one she left.
The former superintendent will be the principal of George Washington
Middle School and will be the assistant superintendent starting on July 1.
“I am super excited,” Baker said on May 29. “I loved the Lyons School
District when I came there four years ago. Fell in love with the district. Fell
in love with the community.”
Her return was approved when the school board met on May 26 at Washington
Baker will be paid a salary of $129,000 each year in her two-year deal
that runs until June 30, 2022.
The vote was 4-3 with the majority approving her return. The “no” votes
came from minority members, who were on the board when Baker’s time in Lyons
ended two years ago.
In 2018, she left for Hinsdale with a year to go on her Lyons contract
after it was clear she would not be renewed by the majority then in power.
“I only left because the previous school board pushed me out,” Baker said.
“The reality is, (District 103) kept pulling on my heartstrings.”
She said she was not surprised by opposition from some board members to
her returning to the district, but is hoping to win them over with her job
performance as principal and assistant superintendent.
Board member Marge Hubacek said that Baker was “fired” from her most
recent job in Hinsdale Township High School District 86, where she worked as
assistant superintendent for academics/chief academics officer since July 1,
Baker said it was more a case of politics when a new superintendent was
hired in Hinsdale as to why her two-year contract was not renewed.
She looks forward to the challenge of being a principal for the first
“That’s one of the things I’m most excited about,” Baker said. “In my
current position at Hinsdale, sadly, I don’t get to spend much time with kids
in a classroom.”
“So, I am excited to do all the great things principals do, which is to
engage with kids … to really become engaged with teachers, students and
parents at the school level,” Baker said. “It reminds us what we’re all doing
Before the school board meeting, some parents – including two former board
members – aligned with minority board members filled the parking lot outside
Washington Middle School to show their opposition to Baker’s return.
Board president Jorge Torres said the numbers represented a very small
percentage of parents in the district.
Baker declined to comment, but did say “staff liked me when I was there
and I enjoyed the work.” She added: “I tried really hard to work with that
previous board and to do what’s best for kids, to present myself a neutral as
During the meeting, Supt. Kristopher Rivera and board Torres spoke highly
of Baker’s qualifications for the job.
Board member Shannon Johnson expressed her doubts about Baker’s return,
saying being principal “is not an easy job,” and asking how it’s feasible for
Baker to also be assistant superintendent.
Rivera said Baker’s “knowledge and expertise” are valuable in the job,
while Torres called Baker “a professional person.”
“When the other side took over, things changed because they were against
every move she made,” Torres said of why Baker left in 2018. “She’s a strong
person. I think she’s qualified to be a principal.”
Board member Sharon Anderson preferred a one-year contract instead of two
“to see how this flushes out.”
Rivera said the two-year deal was “to express the commitment” to the
middle school. Most of Baker’s duties are expected to be as principal, he said.
Anderson wondered if Baker’s presence would have a negative impact on
Rivera in his job. Rivera said he anticipated no such problems like that.
At the start of the meeting, eight letters from the public opposing
Baker’s hiring were read into the record.
Asked about restrictions on education due to the coronavirus pandemic,
with classes at home since March, Baker said: “We are in strange times in
education today with what’s been going on because of the pandemic.”
“It needs deep thinkers to put their head together and figure out how we
can best meet the needs for kids despite the craziness going on out there,”
The board also approved, by a 4-3 vote, hiring Beatriz Lappay as an
assistant principal at Lincoln School for $83,000.
The board approved a one-year extension with Preferred Meal Systems for
lunches, and approved roof replacements at Costello School for $160,050 and
Lincoln School for $78,230.
The board approved cutting sewer and water lines to the former American
Legion hall, 4112 S. Joliet, which the district owns and is just south of the
That’s the first step toward eventual demolition which, officials said, is
needed to make room for parking. The building needs costly repairs, Torres
said, like $40,000 for a roof.
The board briefly considered moving the meeting time up an hour to 6 p.m.,
but decided it best to keep it at 7 p.m.
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