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updated: 10/4/2013 9:10 AM

District 33 looking for community input in superintendent search

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Community members will play a key role in selecting a new superintendent in West Chicago Elementary District 33, school officials say.

The hunt for a leader to replace the retiring Kathy Wolfe is in full swing and residents will have several opportunities in coming days to help school board members develop a profile for the ideal candidate.

The district's search firm, BWP & Associates of Libertyville, already has received a "healthy number of applications," school board President Brenda Vishanoff said.

If all goes well, the district hopes to select a superintendent in January and have him or her in place on July 1. Wolfe's last day on the job will be June 30.

"We're in a very good position to find the very best candidate," Vishanoff said. "We're looking forward to having a very tough decision."

With that in mind, the district is asking residents to complete an online survey at by Wednesday, Oct. 9, that will help the search team identify, among other things, what characteristics and skill sets respondents think the new top administrator should bring to the job.

In addition, the search firm will conduct simultaneous public meetings at three schools beginning at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7. Sessions are slated at Indian Knoll Elementary School, 0N645 Indian Knoll Road; Currier Elementary School at 800 Gary's Mill Road; and Leman Middle School at 238 E. Hazel St. Spanish translators will be available at all three sessions.

Vishanoff said those sessions will be headed by members of the search firm and school board members will purposely stay away to ensure a setting for open communication and "pure community input."

District spokeswoman Gina Steinbrecher said the search firm also will hold a series of other meetings Monday with various groups in the district, including principals, Parent Teacher Organization leaders, middle school students, union representatives and more.

The plan, she said, is for BWP to analyze all that input and present a "profile of what the community is looking for" during a public meeting of the school board on Oct. 17. The board is then scheduled to hold a town-hall meeting Nov. 7 to discuss the profile with community members in more detail with an eye toward hiring a superintendent in January.

That person will replace Wolfe, who was serving as the district's director for business and operations with plans to retire this past summer when she unexpectedly was cast into the superintendent's role in October 2012 when former top administrator Ed Leman suffered a stroke.

Leman officially stepped down in March of this year and the board and Wolfe agreed on a contract that runs through the end of June 2014.

Vishanoff said the board is eager to hear what the community wants in its new superintendent and hopes to hear from the broadest possible cross-section of residents.

"We're looking for a real strong leader to take us into the foreseeable future," she said. "We're looking for somebody with a vision for where we go next."

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