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updated: 9/25/2013 3:15 PM

Dist. 204 hires Iowa firm with local consultants to find superintendent

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Indian Prairie Unit District 204 has chosen an Iowa-based firm with a local flair to conduct a national search for the 29,000-student district's next superintendent.

Ray and Associates, Inc., of Cedar Rapids, will consult with the school board until the next top administrator is chosen, board President Lori Price said. Although the firm's headquarters isn't local, several of its consultants are, she said.

"Four out of five of the people we will be working with are actually in Illinois, from Illinois, so they know this area very well," Price said. "This board was very comfortable moving forward with that group."

Ray and Associates will be paid a base fee of $25,000 for services including developing a candidate profile and a search timeline; suggesting a salary and benefits package; advertising the position and recruiting candidates; checking references and qualifications; and arranging interviews. According to a contract approved unanimously Monday night, the company also could be eligible for an additional $4,700 for travel, phone minutes, copies, postage and shipping.

The new superintendent, whom the board expects to hire by February or March, will begin working for the district that serves students from portions of Naperville, Aurora, Bolingbrook and Plainfield when Superintendent Kathy Birkett retires at the end of this school year. Birkett has spent her entire 35-year career with the district, beginning as a physical education teacher and working later as a principal and deputy superintendent.

Price said Wednesday the board is grateful Birkett announced her retirement in July, allowing about a year to find her successor.

"We have time on our side and we will use that time to conduct a thorough search and find a candidate suitable to the needs of this district," Price said Wednesday. "I am confident we have the right firm in place to help with what is considered the board of education's most important task of hiring a superintendent."

If the board is dissatisfied or the new superintendent resigns within two years of beginning work, Ray and Associates will conduct another search for free, Price said.

Board members will begin establishing a timeline for the search during a two-part board retreat scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday at the Naperville Development Partnership office, 22 E. Chicago Ave., suite 205, Naperville.

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