District 41 to vote on letting superintendent's contract expire, start search for replacement

  • The Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 school board will hear presentations Monday from superintendent search firms as it moves to replace Superintendent Paul Gordon.

      The Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 school board will hear presentations Monday from superintendent search firms as it moves to replace Superintendent Paul Gordon. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer, October 2018

  • A group of demonstrators showed support for Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 Superintendent Paul Gordon during a school board meeting in October.

      A group of demonstrators showed support for Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 Superintendent Paul Gordon during a school board meeting in October. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer, October 2018

  • Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 Superintendent Paul Gordon was hired in 2013.

      Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 Superintendent Paul Gordon was hired in 2013. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer, 2018

 
 
Updated 1/18/2019 4:45 PM

The Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 school board will vote Monday to start a national search to replace Superintendent Paul Gordon and allow his contract to expire in June after nearly six years in charge.

The board's vote abruptly ends months of public silence about Gordon's future in Glen Ellyn and comes in the midst of a five-way race for three board seats in April.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Teacher union leaders, who staged an October rally to support Gordon, denounced the move in the district that serves five schools.

"Dr. Gordon has turned the tide for public education in District 41," Union Co-President Dina Sbarra said in a statement Friday. "His leadership has shown proven results in our schools, and his support for our students and our educators is unparalleled. The board's decision shows they do not have the best interest of our students in mind."

After the October rally, school board President Stephanie Clark acknowledged confidential talks about renewing Gordon's contract have taken place since spring 2017. Clark would not comment Friday, but added the board will issue a statement Monday.

Gordon's contract -- which pays $229,392 annually -- ends in June. If it isn't renewed, the pact calls for the board to give notice no later than April 1.

Gordon declined to comment Friday, but plans to make a statement Monday.

Sbarra and Tracy Guerrieri, co-presidents of the Glen Ellyn Education Association, and others expressed concerns last fall that the board could be left scrambling to find a qualified superintendent should it replace Gordon.

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Those supporters are now questioning why the board didn't pursue a search earlier instead of facing a timeline that is "unnecessarily short," said parent Liza Sury, who will implore the board Monday to "put the brakes" on the plan.

"A lot of people will express their frustration in that they seem to have run out of time and put us in a box," Sury said.

"We have a high-performing district. The threshold has been going up under Dr. Gordon and we need to make sure that continues," said Jodi Herbold, who was speaking as a parent and not in her capacity as the district PTA council executive president.

Sbarra and Guerrieri highlighted Gordon's efforts to reduce the student achievement gap and "reach 77 percent of his long-term goals this year."

"We've lost out on a champion for our students, and every day they delayed starting this search meant another good candidate gone," Guerrieri said. "We expect the board will continue the practice of including all stakeholders in the decision-making process."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The agenda for Monday's meeting shows the board will hear presentations from two search firms: School Executive Connect and BWP and Associates. At the end of the meeting, the board will vote to select a firm.

Gordon's contract was extended for three years in 2015 after a four-hour executive session that ended at 3 a.m. Clark, Kurt Buchholz and then-board member Drew Ellis opposed the deal. Clark and Buchholz ran in 2015 as part of a slate that criticized Gordon's leadership.

The seats held by Clark, Buchholz and Erica Nelson are up for election in April.

Gordon was hired after a national search from a pool of nearly 300 candidates to succeed Ann Riebock, who retired. He previously was chief academic officer in suburban Denver.

In 2017, Gordon was named one of three finalists for the top administrative post in a school district near Seattle, Washington. He also was a front-runner for a superintendent's position he didn't get in his home state of Colorado.

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