The position of director of development for Oswego School District 308 was eliminated at the end of the 2019-2020 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Theresa Komitas, director of communications and public relations for the district, has confirmed.
"The role was not renewed after last school year. The timing was difficult given the pandemic occurring just six months into his (the director's) employment," Komitas explained, adding that many of the planned fundraising events were either cancelled or postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic.
In Aug. 2019, the board approved the hiring of Joshua L, Binder to the newly created position in a split vote.
District administrators first proposed the creation of the position in June 2018. As described, the position "would entail finding sponsorships, grants, or other sources of revenue to help fund district operations, as it continues to work towards offsetting a projected multimillion-dollar budget deficit."
In his role, Binder also worked in conjunction with the non-profit Oswego Foundation for Educational Excellence under an agreement also approved by the board in Aug. 2019.
According to Binder’s contract, he earned a base salary of $40,000 from 2019 to 2020, with a performance-based bonus of $2,916.67, plus a Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund contribution for each month he accomplished a pro-rated amount of the performance goals for the position. Binder was also provided $150 each month for in-district travel expenses.
Binder's last appearance before the board of education was at a board meeting Feb. 24, where he informed the board that he had been working on long and short-term strategies for the department, and had led several fundraising events during his tenure, including a VIP experience at the 2019-2020 Crosstown Challenge football game. He also informed the board that he had applied on behalf of the district for a $400,000 education/technology grant from the Aurora-based Dunham Fund, and a $100,000 grant from the United States Tennis Association to repair the tennis courts at Oswego High School.
The district did receive a $40,000 grant from the Dunham Fund, an amount affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Komitas said it was unclear if the district had received the grant form the United States Tennis Association.
Binder had also planned for several future goals for the district, which were halted by COVID-19. Plans included: a day of giving to be held in November in collaboration with the Dunham Fund, continuing to engage corporate partners, beginning an alumni/community newsletter, solicit general unrestricted donations, establish estate/planned giving, and to host a 'Family Fest Event' in the spring of 2021