With well over a year left before she calls it a career, Mundelein Elementary District 75 Superintendent Cynthia Heidorn doesn't like to be considered a lame duck.
But district officials know finding a good candidate can take time, and have begun the process to hire a search firm to identify a replacement. Heidorn started her tenure in July 2005 and has said she will retire after the 2013-14 school year.
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"I don't know that it's real early," said Wells Frice, the longtime school board president. Four school board seats were up in the recent election but only incumbents ran, ensuring a cohesive board.
"We thought we'd go ahead and talk with search firm now and get that settled," Frice added.
On May 4, the school board is scheduled to interview the firms BWP and School Exec Connect for an hour each. The latter firm was recently hired to find a replacement for Mundelein High School Superintendent Jody Ware, who also will retire after the next school year.
A decision is expected by the end of May. Focus groups are expected to be held in the fall, when the selected firm will meet with board members, staff, parents and others with a stake in the district to determine what qualities they want in a superintendent.
The actual search likely would begin in early 2014, when the "number of candidates who are looking are the largest," Frice said.
Heidorn replaced Ray Partridge, who held the position at what was then a four-school district for nine years. Her total compensation including salary and benefits, was estimated at about $252,000 for this school year.
Like other districts, Mundelein 75 has weathered hard financial times and laid off the equivalent of 44 teachers and staff in 2010. But enrollment is steady, Frice said, and unless the state requires districts to pay a portion of employee pensions, it should be solid financially.
"We'll be OK but we're still experiencing and will continue to experience declines in assessed valuation," he said.