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posted: 2/13/2014 5:30 AM

Community has its say on next Dist. 300 superintendent

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  • Terri Cornelius, left, and her husband, Gerald Jacobs of Lake in the Hills, talk about what they want in the next superintendent to lead Community Unit District 300, during a community forum held Wednesday. They were among 11 people attending.

       Terri Cornelius, left, and her husband, Gerald Jacobs of Lake in the Hills, talk about what they want in the next superintendent to lead Community Unit District 300, during a community forum held Wednesday. They were among 11 people attending.
    Lenore Adkins | Staff Photographer

 
 

The next person to lead Community Unit District 300 should trust the staff's expertise, inspire greatness among students and staff, hold people accountable for their performance, support special education students and possess the political chops to fight for the district, about a dozen parents and residents said Wednesday.

It also wouldn't hurt if the future superintendent of the Carpentersville-based district is tech savvy, highly visible, has enough energy to keep up with students and is willing to abandon failing policies.

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"No matter how brilliant you are, you're going to have bad ideas every now and then," said Curtis Faessler of Algonquin.

Eleven parents and residents gave their thoughts as part of a process the board launched to find a new superintendent. Michael Bregy is leaving after three years at the helm to run North Shore School District 112, based in Highland Park.

The future superintendent, meanwhile, should also know what he or she is getting into, the group said Wednesday.

While the district has a teacher who just won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, talented students, a rich heritage with longtime families, newer facilities and a diverse student body, it has its challenges as well.

They include a declining tax base, special education facilities that require extensive busing, Illinois' rocky finances and students who need help learning how to speak English, the group said.

"The diversity is a plus and it can also cause problems because a lot might have to have ESL speakers that don't just speak Spanish," said Terri Cornelius of Lake in the Hills. "And that can be hard to recruit."

The school board hired Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates to conduct a national search for a new superintendent and Wednesday's community session capped a day of feedback throughout the state's sixth largest school district.

Earlier in the day, the recruiter solicited input from teachers, principals, staff, union members and school board trustees, said Steve Humphrey, the firm's executive vice president.

Future sessions will involve community leaders, clergy, the District 300 Foundation and additional staff members,

Responses to an online, anonymous survey are also robust, with about 350 completed and 150 on the way, Humphrey said. Surveys must be completed by the end of the day Sunday.

The firm will compile all of the information into a summary and profile for the next superintendent that lists the top 10 or 12 characteristics people want in the district's future leader, present them to the board and recruit candidates based on a final profile.

The district hopes to hire a new superintendent by the beginning of May.

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