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updated: 10/25/2011 4:45 PM

Glenbard District 87 picks superintendent search firm

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Glenbard High School District 87 board members have selected a search firm to look for a new superintendent, but they've stressed they want extensive oversight in the process.

The board voted this week to hire School Exec Connect, a Highland Park-based firm that specializes in the recruitment of school superintendents. The district will pay $19,500 for the firm's services, which include developing a superintendent characteristics profile through a series of focus group meetings, and matching that profile with prospective candidates.

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But board members also said they want to be involved over the course of the search, which is expected to take three to four months.

The search for a successor to Superintendent Michael Meissen began in August when he announced he would step down at the end of the school year.

It's possible one board member could "shepherd" the firm and provide the rest of the board with updates on the progress of the search at every meeting, Board President Rich Heim said.

Typically, search firms bring the top four or five candidates to the board for interviews. At that time, board member Tom Voltaggio said he'd like to see an analysis of how the firm reached its decision on those candidates.

At its Oct. 11 meeting, the board tabled a decision on selecting either School Exec Connect or Libertyville-based BWP & Associates after Voltaggio expressed reservations that neither firm could provide a broad-based search.

He said at the time some superintendent candidates might be discouraged to apply because they might not have close ties with officials from either firm -- many of whom are former school administrators.

Since then, Heim looked into other search firms, but told board members this week that many of the companies he contacted had higher price points compared to companies specializing in education.

"I was under-impressed with almost everything I saw. I think if we're going to look for out-of-the-box thinking, it's going to be us to do it," Heim told the board. "I don't see anything here that's going to get us any closer for a price that is more fiscally responsible."

In an effort to get superintendent candidates who might not be on School Exec Connect's list, board member Mary Ozog suggested talking to officials at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement firm.

Heim said they indicated they would share their candidates with Glenbard for free.

Officials hope to have decision on a new superintendent by February.

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