Rafferty retiring as Dist. 54 superintendent, DuRoss likely successor
Ed Rafferty, superintendent of Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 for the past eight years, will retire at the end of the school year.
On Thursday night, the school board will vote on the appointment of current Assistant Superintendent Andy DuRoss to succeed Rafferty next year. If the board approves DuRoss' appointment, it will offer him a five-year contract paying him $195,000 in its first year.
Based on the Teachers' Retirement System's formula, Rafferty's annual pension will be $187,607 -- that is, 75 percent of the average of his last four years' salaries.
Rafferty leaves a 27-school district which has stood out in the Northwest suburbs for its financial stability and strength.
He said this comes in large part from what is now 16 consecutive years of balanced budgets and a successful effort to make the district debt-free after it experienced significant levels of debt during the '80s and '90s.
Now District 54 is spending money directly on programs for students rather than on interest on debt, Rafferty said.
Rafferty spent his entire 37-year career in District 54, starting as a special-education teacher. Along the way, he's seen many improvements as well as some growing challenges.
"I think the biggest change for the better is having schools be held accountable for the education of the students," Rafferty said. "I don't see the focus on results ever going away."
On the other hand, Rafferty sees a national backlash against public education. He said the reality he has seen, however, is passionate and dedicated teachers.
He notes that most people across the nation give their own schools an A or B grade while they regard public education in general as deserving a C or worse. The latter can't be true if everyone has a positive opinion of their own schools, he added.
"I think we're running an A-plus school district," he said.
Rafferty believes that when people look back at his career, they will recognize that he put children first. Though there were some staffing decisions he made as superintendent that were controversial -- including replacing some nontenured fine arts and physical education teachers with part-timers last year -- he said his conviction that it was the right thing for students helped him through the criticism.
And he's pleased with the board's nomination of DuRoss as his successor, believing there will be a smooth transition during the year ahead.
"I am really thrilled that our board has chosen a proven leader," Rafferty said of DuRoss. "I think good leadership is good leadership. It's how you work with people."
Board President Teresa Huber could not be reached for comment Tuesday on DuRoss' nomination.
DuRoss said he wished to decline comment until Thursday out of respect for the board's pending vote.
DuRoss joined District 54 as an assistant principal in 2002 before becoming a principal and then assistant superintendent. Before that he worked for eight years as a teacher and assistant principal in Westmont Community School District 201.
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