It's official: Baker to lead Plano School District 88

Board votes unanimously to award veteran educator 3-year contract

The Plano School District 88 Board of Education has appointed Tony Baker, currently the principal at Emily G. Johns Elementary School, as the district’s superintendent.

The board voted unanimously Tuesday evening to approve a three-year contract for Baker that sets his annual starting salary at $148,000.

Baker, an Oswego resident, will assume his new duties effective July 1. He will replace Dr. Hector Garcia, who will leave the district at the end of next month to serve as superintendent in the Hinsdale School District. Garcia has served as superintendent in Plano for the past six years.

An educator in the district for the past 18 years, Baker has been the only principal for Emily G. Johns Elementary in Plano since it opened in 2007. Out of nearly 40 applicants for the superintendent’s position, Baker and Dr. Tracy Thurwanger, director for teaching and learning for the district since July 2016, were both named as semifinalists.

Tim Campbell, board president, said that when the board members completed their discussions, Baker and Thurwanger were the top two candidates.

“We wanted them to meet the staff and have the staff talk to them before we [the board] voted,” he said.

Campbell said the board did the same thing six years ago with Garcia and another finalist for the superintendent’s position. Neither of those candidates was a Plano employee at the time, he added.

Garcia described Baker as an excellent administrator who is passionate about students and who has a long history of helping students. In addition, Garcia said Baker has a rare quality that great leaders have: the ability to bring together individuals to work toward a common cause.

“Mr. Baker has been doing that for many, many years. He has been instrumental in raising student performance and he has been a leader and champion for bringing in staff members to continue to buy into the mission of our district,” Garcia said.

Baker said he believes there is positive momentum in the district now, and he wants to keep moving forward.

“I need to focus my work in the next few months on learning as much, working with the board of education to educate them and to make proposals that make sense – recommendations that they understand, that still carry forward the vision that Hector [Garcia] and the board have set for the entire district,” he said, adding, “The board has done a great job of developing a strategic plan, and 'achieve,' 'grow,' 'contribute,' are going to be words that we’ll continue to use even when Hector is not here.”

As approved by the board, Baker’s contract will be in effect July 1 and end June 30, 2021. The district will make the required contribution to the state's Teacher’s Retirement System (TRS) for Baker up to a maximum of 9 percent of his annual base salary. The district will also pay his required contribution to TRS for Teacher Retirees’ Health Insurance.

In addition to his salary, the district will pay Baker an additional $4,500 each contract year, which will be deducted from his salary and used to purchase a tax-sheltered annuity.

The district will reimburse Baker for expenses incurred in the performance of his duties as superintendent.

He also will be reimbursed for use of his personal vehicle for district business at the rate of $200 per month.

Numerous goals are outlined for Baker in the contract dealing with curriculum, student achievement, professional development, providing comprehensive staff development in educational best practices to improve student learning, and various other items.

The board and superintendent will annually review and assess Baker’s overall performance based upon the student performance and academic achievement goals listed above.

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