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updated: 6/12/2014 1:38 PM

Dist. 200 starts superintendent search, looks for public input

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  • Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 Board of Education President Barbara Intihar, far left, discusses the district's search for a new superintendent Wednesday during a board of education meeting. Brian Harris vacated the position on May 29 to take over as superintendent of Barrington Unit District 220.

       Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 Board of Education President Barbara Intihar, far left, discusses the district's search for a new superintendent Wednesday during a board of education meeting. Brian Harris vacated the position on May 29 to take over as superintendent of Barrington Unit District 220.
    Jessica Cilella | Staff Photographer

  • Video: New leader search in Dist. 200

 
 

Board of education members are seeking input from the community as the search for Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200's next superintendent kicks into full gear.

The board is quickly working to find a replacement for Brian Harris, who abruptly ended his four-year tenure as the district's leader on May 29 to take over as superintendent of Barrington Unit District 220.

Harris still had more than four years left on his five-year contract when he left.

According to Board President Barbara Intihar, 15 resumes from "very qualified" candidates have already been submitted for the position.

"That's very, very encouraging," she said during a board of education meeting Wednesday. "Dr. Harris (did) a really good job in recruiting some top notch people for us to look at."

The board had the option to fine Harris $40,000 for breaking his contract with less than 180 days notice. Instead, they agreed with a 5-2 vote to waive the penalty and require Harris to help the district identify at least five qualified candidates to replace him, among other duties.

"I'm very confident that Dr. Harris has done exactly what he said he would do and more. I'm confident we'll find a very good replacement," said board member Joann Coghill.

A "superintendent profile" laying out the qualities the board is looking for in the next superintendent is posted on the district's website at www.cusd200.org. Community members are encouraged to review the profile and send informal observations and comments to the board at supsearch@cusd200.org.

The interview process, Intihar said, will include a review of resumes, screening interviews, a review of personal strengths profiles, in-depth interviews, reference checks, visits to the candidates' districts and invitations for the candidates to meet with District 200 administrators and stakeholders.

While the goal is to have a new superintendent selected by August, board members acknowledged some of the difficulties they'll face as they try to find a replacement in the summer, such as visits to the candidates' workplace.

"That will look different than in years past because in the past we've gone to them when school's in session, so we can see their schools in operation, we can see the climate," Intihar said. "It will be a little bit more difficult. We're going to have to see what that looks like when the time comes."

Some board members said they want to encourage attendees at next week's final Engage200 session to provide feedback on the superintendent search.

Board member Rosemary Swanson suggested giving attendees a chance to write down comments at the meeting.

"Every opportunity and every way that people like to communicate, we should allow them to do," she said.

Board member Jim Vroman said two short presentations regarding the superintendent search are already scheduled for the meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Monroe Middle School.

Vroman will emphasize how the final report of the community engagement process is critical for the superintendent finalists to review. In addition, Intihar will give attendees an update on the search and encourage submissions of online feedback.

For now, Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services Faith Dahlquist continues to lead the district as interim superintendent.

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