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Article updated: 7/25/2013 6:12 PM

District 204 will use search firm to find superintendent

By Marie Wilson

Indian Prairie Unit District 204 has reached out to several search firms as the first step toward finding a superintendent to succeed the retiring Kathy Birkett, officials said Thursday.

By sending a request for proposals to seven or eight firms, school board President Lori Price said the hunt has begun for Birkett's replacement, who will lead the district beginning in the 2014-15 school year.

Price said the board is looking for a firm to take the opinions of parents, teachers and administrators into account through surveys, focus groups or other means.

"We want to make sure we're getting a search firm that's open to getting community feedback," Price said. "We'll certainly keep the community involved as much as we can in this process going forward."

Proposals are due Aug. 12 and the board will begin evaluating them Aug. 19. Price said the board will hear presentations from prospective search firms on Sept. 9 and/or Sept. 10 in hopes of hiring one by Sept. 23.

The board has not yet determined if its search will go nationwide or stay more locally or regionally focused, Price said. She said some of the firms the district has contacted are based in Illinois and many have a national reach.

When Birkett was promoted to superintendent in 2009, Price said the district was looking for a strong communicator. Dialogue to be held over the next several months will determine what stakeholders in the district, which now serves roughly 29,000 students in portions of Naperville, Aurora, Plainfield and Bolingbrook, want in their leader this time around.

"We'll be looking at what the needs of the district are and what the community feels the needs are," Price said.

Years before becoming superintendent, Birkett joined the district in 1979 as a physical education teacher. She announced last week her intent to retire following the 2013-14 school year.

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