District 150 hires legal officer, talks budget

May 13, 2014

The District 150 School Board voted to hire an in-house legal officer.  Peoria Public Radio’s Alex Rusciano reports the move comes as the Board heard from parents concerned about the legal money spent on a testing investigation at Charter Oak. 

 The Board voted to hire Rick Rettberg in a three-year contract to serve as an in-house lawyer starting this summer. He was formally legal counsel for the financial arm of the United Methodist Church, and will have an annual pay and benefits package of $213,000 in his first year.  The District will still continue to use its current outside legal counsel as well.  School Board president Rick Cloyd says using an in-house service will lessen the cost of the external legal help: 

 “It’s impossible to say how much that is,” Cloyd says.

 “I know in other business situations that I’ve been involved in, they’ve seen the value of internal legal counsel simply because you have the ability to counsel and deal with people inside the organization and help them in a way you can’t afford to do with an outside counsel.”

 The vote to hire an in-house service followed parents speaking out against $130,000 in legal fees that the district reportedly spent on a state testing investigation at Charter Oak. In other business, the District’s updated budget this year also closed a $6 million spending gap by about $400,000.