Naperville Unit District 203 Superintendent Mark Mitrovich publicly announced his resignation Monday night, one week after he made the board of education aware of his decision in a closed-door meeting.
Mitrovich, 65, was hired in February 2009 and joined the district in July 2009 on a three-year contract. In July 2011, the board increased his base pay 12 percent, from $203,000 to $228,000 and gave him a 5 percent performance bonus as he entered the third and final year of his contract.
Monday night, he said the choice to not return to the district was his personal decision.
"As of tonight I am announcing that I am resigning my position as superintendent effective June 30 of this year. This is a personal decision made in conjunction with my family. I'd like to thank the board of education for its dedication and role in leading this school district," he said.
"I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the outstanding administrative leadership in this district and the teaching and educational staff who are innovative, nurturing and committed professionals and who dedicate themselves to the children every day. I'd also like to acknowledge all the volunteers and the members of this community who so willingly support the education of all children in the district. There is no better example of this than the people who served on the Enrollment Capacity Study committee.
"And to the families who entrust their children to us, I thank them for showing their faith in the schools and the leadership and for being true partners with us. You are an amazing group of people."
Board President Mike Jaensch said he was saddened by Mitrovich's decision but confident the administrative team left behind will carry the district forward.
"A sudden change like this could cause a lot of concern in a district. But one of the reasons the board can feel so confident as we move forward with the typical Dist. 203 standard is because of the administrative team Mark has assembled over the past few years. It is one of the finest in the state, if not the country and I don't say that lightly. They are going to be absolutely essential to our success moving forward," Jaensch said. "As a community we truly recognize the importance of great leadership in a superintendent. We've had that for many years now and we intend to continue that."
Jaensch considers Mitrovich's greatest contribution to the district to be his ability to reinforce the importance of the looming Common Core Curriculum.
"He tried to make everyone realize that we're going to have to step up our game," he said. "I once thought this district's biggest problem was complacency, but he wrung that out of this system."
Jaensch said the district will now be challenged to find a new superintendent by July 1.
"We have to balance the need to be deliberate and thorough with the need to get leadership in a reasonable amount of time. Obviously we will have someone in the position July 1. There will be someone. Could it be someone titled interim? That's a possibility. Could we find someone in the next three months? It's a possibility. Odds are not high, so I don't want to mislead anyone, but we are not going to give up," he said.
"We're going to look at all the options. Perhaps someone is available for a year, perhaps someone is available long term. We won't know until we start asking and we're too early in the process to see who's available."
In recent months, Jaensch and other board members have been critical of Mitrovich as the district has struggled with both the implementation of all-day kindergarten and new boundaries. Board member Dave Weeks, however, apologized to Mitrovich Monday night for "not working hard enough" to make Mitrovich "successful."
Jaensch, however, denied the board had pressured Mitrovich to step down.
"He stands by what he says and I'm not going to argue with him. We had a lot of discussions about the pros and cons," Jaensch said. "We obviously realize it can be disruptive, but he's made his decision and we have to move forward."
Mitrovich did not make himself available for questions after the meeting and did not return a voice message left on his cellphone.
Mitrovich is the chief education officer for EdGate, a company he co-founded that uses the Internet to improve student learning.
Before founding EdGate, Mitrovich served as the superintendent of Peninsula School District in Gig Harbor, Wash., a 15-school district of kindergarten through high school students.
He holds a doctorate in education administration from the University of Santa Barbara and was named Washington state's Principal of the Year in 1991 and Superintendent of the Year in 1998.
Mitrovich has also served as an adviser to several education entities, including the New York City Board of Education and the Ministries of Education in New Zealand and the state of Victoria in Australia.
Working with Microsoft, he helped start the Anywhere, Anytime Learning Program that puts laptop computers into students' hands, and has also developed the Total Reader Web-based reading assessment program.
Mitrovich is also the founder of Benevolent Bean Coffee, which puts much of its profits toward improving health and education in Ethiopia.