Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 has a new leader.
The board of education approved a four-year contract Wednesday with Jeffrey Schuler to serve as the district's new superintendent.
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Schuler, 42, comes from Kaneland Community Unit District 302, where he has served as superintendent since 2010. He will begin his new position with District 200 on Sept. 2.
"We're just absolutely thrilled," said a visibly relieved board of education President Barbara Intihar. "I have no doubt that Dr. Schuler is the right person at the right time for us."
The board has been searching for a new leader since Brian Harris stepped down at the end of May to take on the superintendent position in Barrington Unit District 220. Faith Dahlquist, assistant superintendent for educational services, has been serving as interim superintendent since Harris left.
Harris was required, as part of his separation agreement, to identify at least five qualified candidates who could replace him. Intihar said Harris ended up referring about 15 people to the board, including Schuler.
"I think he's going to take our district to new levels and build upon the good foundation that he finds here," she said. "He's not a person who will be complacent and we certainly can't be either. I think it's a really good fit for us."
Schuler's base salary will be $225,000, with an increase each year equal to the consumer price index, but no more than 5 percent of the prior contract year's base salary. In addition, Schuler will have an opportunity to earn up to an additional 2 percent of the prior year's salary based off an annual performance evaluation rating.
Schuler's contract lasts until June 30, 2018. Intihar noted that the board agreed to go with a four-year contract -- instead of the five-year contract Harris had -- so the renewal date wouldn't fall in an election year.
The contract was approved with a 6-0 vote. Board member Jim Gambaiani was absent.
"September 2 is not going to come quick enough," Schuler said after the vote. "I'm ready to get to work and I promise you as a board, as a community, as a leadership team, you will not be disappointed. I will make you proud."
Schuler began working for Kaneland District 302 as an assistant superintendent in 2006. The district spans from near the DeKalb County border east to about Elburn and serves approximately 4,800 students. It includes four elementary schools, one middle school in Sugar Grove and one high school in Maple Park.
"It's exciting to think about being in a system where the impact is on almost 14,000 kids," he said. "It's just a great opportunity, it's a tremendous opportunity."
During his time in District 302, Schuler developed a strategic plan, implemented various programs addressing students' social and emotional well-being, led community engagement committees and brought new technology devices into the district.
Board member Rosemary Swanson said Schuler also had three qualities that made her feel completely confident that he was the right candidate. They included his work with advisory groups and desire to partner with the community in new and different ways, his hope to use "best practices and next practices" and his student-focused approach.
"You clearly have your compass pointed in the right direction so I'm looking forward to seeing where you take us," she said.
Prior to joining District 302, Schuler taught and served as a middle school principal in Northbrook District 27 and worked with gifted students at Joyce Kilmer Elementary School in Wheeling. He has also served as adjunct faculty for Loyola University, Aurora University and Northern Illinois University.
Board member Jim Vroman, who led the search process with Intihar, thanked the district's senior administration for their help. He also praised the board for their work in selecting Schuler.
"Every single member of this board made important contributions toward our progress in selecting, finally, Dr. Schuler as our superintendent," he said. "I'm not saying it was smooth all the time, and calm and collaborative, but the ultimate outcome was wonderful and the contribution each member of this board made in this process should be applauded as well."
Intihar said the board met more than a dozen times in the last two months to make the selection and while it was exhausting, she couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out.
"To me, it was the most collaborative piece of work that we have done as a board, hands down," she said.