The Round Lake Area School District 116 board of education has selected Deputy Superintendent Donn Mendoza to lead the district after Superintendent Constance Collins retires this summer.
Mendoza, who has been in the district since the 2013-2014 school year, signed a 5-year contract with an annual base salary of $220,000 on Monday night. He said he will keep the school district on its current positive trajectory.
"I look forward to continuing the positive momentum started under Dr. Collins," Mendoza said. "I'm so grateful for the opportunity, grateful to the board and Dr. Collins for their support."
Board President Kevin Daniels said while he's sad to see Collins retire, he is confident the district will be in good hands with Mendoza as superintendent.
Daniels said Mendoza impressed him by bringing positive change to Round Lake High School during his four-year tenure as principal there. Mendoza in particular excelled at explaining to the district community why the high school's $29 million renovation completed last year was so important, he said.
The board considered a traditional outside executive search to find Collins' replacement, but it ultimately decided it didn't need to because Mendoza was such a great candidate for the job, Daniels said.
"He was very visible in the district and I think that he would have been a very attractive candidate not only for our position but at several positions in other school districts in Lake County," he said, adding that Collins' level of confidence in Mendoza was a comforting factor.
Mendoza said he appreciated Collins' endorsement and mentorship over the years.
"She is without question the strongest supervisor and boss I ever had," Mendoza said. "I think she's a natural mentor. She's very interested in others growing and evolving as leaders."
Mendoza said he doesn't want to put his personal stamp on the district. Rather, he wants to focus on continuous improvement.
"My approach is more that if we focus on the right work in the right area and do it the right way, the results will take care of themselves," he said.
Before joining Round Lake 116, Mendoza served in leadership roles at Crystal Lake Elementary District 47, Barrington Area Unit School District 220 and Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300. He earned his bachelor's degree from Judson College, a master of arts in educational leadership from Aurora University, and his doctoral degrees from Northern Illinois University.
The vote to approve Mendoza as the district's new superintendent was unanimous.