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updated: 3/20/2012 12:18 PM

Glenbard 87 finds next superintendent in suburban Detroit

Superintendent found near Detroit

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  • David Larson

    David Larson


A suburban Detroit school district superintendent will become the new administrative leader of Glenbard High School District 87 beginning July 1.

David F. Larson, head of the affluent Birmingham Public School district 20 miles north of Detroit, was appointed Glenbard superintendent in a 7-0 vote by the District 87 school board Monday.

The board also ratified a three-year contract with Larson that will pay him $215,000 in the first year, with the option for increases based upon annual performance evaluations. Current Superintendent Mike Meissen is making $215,665 in the final year of his contract.

The appointment follows a seven-month-long search process triggered by Meissen's announcement that he would be stepping down at the end of the school year.

Larson comes to Illinois' third largest school district having been a superintendent a total of 12 years: the last four in Birmingham, and the eight previous at Harbor Springs Public Schools in Michigan.

In Birmingham, he oversees a school district made up of eight elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools, an alternative high school, a grades 3-8 science and technology school, and an early childhood center. The district has a total of 8,200 students and employs a total of 1,100 people.

At Glenbard, he will oversee a total of four high schools with 9,000 students and 928 employees. He will become the district's eighth superintendent, since 1918.

Board President Rich Heim said Larson is regarded as a "highly visible, energetic leader" with a collaborative leadership style and experience in facilitating strategic work.

Glenbard officials said Larson was raised in New Guinea, Indonesia, as the son of a missionary anthropologist, and spent his early childhood among the Dani people, a primitive, stone-age tribe. Larson attended high school in Penang, Malaysia.

"He brings not only diversity to us, but he'll be a great addition to our overall school district," Heim said.

He said a total of 38 applicants sent resumes to School Exec Connect, the district-hired superintendent search firm. After the firm conducted focus group sessions with district stakeholders about what characteristics they would like to see in a new superintendent, the list was narrowed to seven people, all of whom met behind closed doors with the school board.

Board members then narrowed the list down to three finalists, who met with three panels -- the school board, administrators and teachers, and community members -- on Feb. 28, 29 and March 1.

Heim said the board selected Larson during a closed session meeting March 3. Since then, the board has been negotiating its contract with Larson and conducting reference checks.

Under terms of the agreement, Larson will receive 25 vacation days per year and a $500-per-month automobile stipend. The school district will also reimburse up to $10,000 of his moving expenses to relocate from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., to within the 45-square mile Glenbard district.

Picked: Next superintendent grew up among primitive tribe

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