For the last five months Dan Bridges has occupied the superintendent's office in Naperville Unit District 203, but as an interim, he was hesitant to hang even a picture on the wall.
Monday night district officials gave him the hammer and the nail when they ended their months-long search for Mark Mitrovich's successor and signed him to a three-year contract worth $225,000 a year.
Board President Mike Jaensch said throughout the search process, board members knew they were looking for an inspirational leader and an outstanding communicator who has consistently demonstrated the highest ethical and moral standards.
"As these discussions matured, we realized we had the perfect person right in front of us. And unlike many interview processes that are over in a matter of weeks, the board has had the ability to observe and evaluate (Bridges) for over a year," Jaensch said. "He met every quality we were looking for, and we unanimously agree (Bridges) is the ideal candidate to lead our district forward for what we hope is many years to come."
The new contract, which replaces Bridge's one-year, $210,000 deal he signed in March, will pay him $225,000 for each of the next three years. The district will also provide him with a monthly $650 travel stipend and his entire contribution to the Teachers' Retirement System pension fund.
The district also continued its commitment to give Bridges 10 personal days toward the completion of his doctorate in educational administration from Northern Illinois University.
Bridges, 42, said he is excited to have earned some long-term stability and promised his style would not change from what the district grew accustomed to in the last five months.
"It's my expectation that the same commitment and the same leadership you've seen from me will continue," Bridges said. "I'd also like to thank the parents, students and Naperville community for the warm welcome you've extended to me."
Among the first things he hopes to tackle is a re-evaluation of the all-day kindergarten proposal that failed to garner momentum in the spring. Bridges said he hopes to make his own recommendation to the board this fall.
Bridges began work in Naperville in July 2011 after a lengthy career in West Aurora School District 129, where he held a number of leadership positions, including principal at the elementary, junior high and high school levels and district athletic director.
Since arriving in Naperville, Bridges established Tip203, an anonymous reporting line, oversaw the principal evaluation process related to school reform Senate Bill 7, and was a key player for the Enrollment Capacity Study Committee as it made its final boundary recommendation earlier this spring.