A former longtime superintendent in Lake Park High School District 108 is returning to the area to take the reins of Medinah Elementary District 11.
John Butts, who resigned his Lake Park post in April 2010 after eight years with the district and with two years still remaining on his contract, was named the new superintendent in Medinah on Thursday night. He begins work July 1 with a two-year contract that will pay him $167,000 annually plus benefits.
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He replaces Joseph Bailey, who is stepping down after 10 years with the Medinah district to take a similar position in Lincolnwood.
Butts, 62 and a Bloomingdale resident, most recently served as superintendent of Reed-Custer District 255 in Braidwood. He said he was contemplating retiring in the next year or so when the District 11 position became available.
Medinah school board President Stephen Durante said Bailey announced in February that he would step down June 30 and a search committee began work around March 1 to find his replacement. He said the district received about 20 applications and narrowed the field to three before offering the job to Butts.
"We were fortunate to find a candidate of this caliber in this short amount of time," Durante said Friday. "He fits well; he knows the community."
The Medinah district serves about 670 students in three schools; Reed-Custer serves roughly 1,800.
Butts, an administrator for 30 years, said he was attracted to the Medinah post because the district is on solid financial footing, student achievement is on the rise and it's much closer to home. He said this will be his last full-time job as a superintendent and "it's not out of the question" he may stay in Medinah beyond the current length of his contract.
He said his focus will be on student achievement and providing maximum opportunities for children.
"I'm a person who likes to take a team approach to things," he said. "The great satisfaction for me is seeing a team evolve."
He said he's a strong advocate for strategic planning and involving stakeholders in the process. "Instead of being my vision," he said, "it's our vision."
Butts caused a stir in the spring of 2010 when he announced he was stepping down as Lake Park superintendent with two years left on his contract. Neither Butts nor school board members were forthcoming at that time about the reason for his early departure.
Looking back, he said Friday, "When you're at a place for a long time, you can have differences with leadership and you just agree to go your separate ways, almost like a divorce."
Outgoing Medinah superintendent Joseph Bailey, meanwhile, said he felt after 10 years it was time to tackle new challenges. But he said he plans to keep his focus on Medinah over the remaining months of his tenure.
"I love this place," he said. "It's a great place. I want to finish well and make sure this place is in as good of shape or better than when I came."