After getting feedback from nearly 800 people through surveys and community forums, Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 is getting ready to select a new superintendent.
Superintendent Sarah Jerome will retire in June after seven years with the district and officials said they hope to have a new leader hired by the end of 2013.
More than 40 people have already applied for the position before the Oct. 15 deadline, said Mark Friedman, consultant with BWP & Associates, the firm handling the nationwide search.
An online survey about the district's needs and desires for a new superintendent received 688 responses and more than 100 people participated in focus groups and individual meetings with BWP & Associates. Both the survey results and notes from the focus groups were presented to the school board last week.
According to the survey results, to top strength of the district were its "excellent teachers and staff," "supportive parents," and the strong "reputation of the district."
The most important skills for the new superintendent to have, according to the survey, were leadership and communication.
"People said they want a visible, active superintendent. They want this person to represent the school system in all kinds of activities in Arlington Heights and really be the face of the district," Friedman said.
Respondents said curriculum, educational options and programs, and funding are the three most important issues facing the district in the next five years.
Several focus groups were also held to discuss the district strengths, issues and what characteristics will be important for a new superintendent. The groups included PTA members, administrators, union leadership, staff members and the public.
Several groups listed concerns about handling increasing diversity within the district, implementing new curriculum and teacher evaluation standards, as well as, improving staff morale. Several groups also said they are looking for a visible, collaborative leader who can communicate and bring consistency to the district's nine buildings.
Some applicants have come from out of state, but Friedman said most of them are from the Chicago area, and many of them are in high-level positions in school districts.
"Many of them are very successful in their current positions, but see Arlington Heights as a very attractive next career move," he said.
Once applications close, the company will interview 12 to 14 finalists and then bring a smaller group to the school board for several rounds of interviews before a final decision is made.