Wheeling District 21 getting Keeneyville District 20's superintendent

  • Incoming Wheeling Township Elementary District 21 Superintendent Michael Connolly, right, talks with London Middle School Principal Luis Correa, left, and Cooper Middle School Principal Bob Gurney after a school board meeting Thursday night.

      Incoming Wheeling Township Elementary District 21 Superintendent Michael Connolly, right, talks with London Middle School Principal Luis Correa, left, and Cooper Middle School Principal Bob Gurney after a school board meeting Thursday night. Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer

  • Michael Connolly

    Michael Connolly

 
 
Posted12/15/2017 5:30 AM

Michael Connolly was chosen Thursday to be Wheeling Township Elementary District 21's new superintendent starting next summer.

Connolly, the superintendent in Hanover Park-based Keeneyville Elementary District 20 since 2011, says he was drawn to District 21 because of its diversity -- similar to other districts where he's worked. Before Keeneyville, he was director of curriculum at Fenton High School in Bensenville.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It was very clear to me from the first get-go this place was about kids and communities, and what I have wanted to be a part of my entire career," said Connolly, 42, who has spent 20 years in the education field. "I'm really gratified to be coming here."

The District 21 school board Thursday night unanimously approved a three-year contract with Connolly, who will take the helm July 1, 2018. He will replace Kate Hyland, who is retiring after 33 years in public education, including 15 years at District 21 -- the last six of which as superintendent.

Connolly, making a base annual salary of $174,199 in Keeneyville, will be paid $197,500 in District 21.

He was the winning selection out of a pool of nearly 50 local and national candidates. Search firm BWP & Associates, hired by the board in August for $18,500, collected applications and did screening interviews before bringing seven candidates to the board for in-person interviews on Nov. 11. The board brought back three finalists for another round of interviews on Dec. 2 and decided on Connolly.

"Dr. Connolly distinguished himself by virtue of his broad-based experience as a teacher, principal, school improvement coordinator and more than six years as a current superintendent in a very diverse district that mirrors some of the challenges experienced in District 21," said Phil Pritzker, District 21's board president. "His child-centered approach, supported by an open and engaging personal management style, is one that the board believes will be the right fit for our community."

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District 20 has two elementary schools, a middle school and an early childhood center. By comparison, District 21 has nine elementary schools, three middle schools and an early childhood school serving residents in portions of Wheeling, Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Mount Prospect, Prospect Heights and Northbrook.

Under the eight-page contract approved Thursday night, Connolly must begin transitional responsibilities in May, which will include meeting with Hyland. After he formally takes the job, the board has tasked him with submitting a community engagement and visibility plan; convening a districtwide data retreat to analyze the culture, climate, academic growth and fiscal health of the district; and implementing a budgetary strategy that incorporates the state's new evidence-based funding model, which gives some districts more money based on need.

According to the contract, Connolly will receive a contribution made on his behalf to the Illinois Teachers' Retirement System, 20 vacation days, three personal days and 13 sick days every year.

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