District 41 candidates want 'seat at the table' in superintendent search

 
 
Updated 1/28/2019 8:13 PM
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  • Jessica Buttimer

    Jessica Buttimer

  • Ted Estes

    Ted Estes

  • Julie Hill

    Julie Hill

The three challengers in the Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 school board race are asking to play a "large role" in the search for a new superintendent while also criticizing the board's decision to part ways with Paul Gordon.

The contest for three seats in the April 2 election features two incumbents, meaning at least one of the newcomers is guaranteed a spot. The challengers -- Jessica Buttimer, Ted Estes and Julie Hill -- say they are not running as a slate but want a "seat at the table" as the board prepares a timeline and parameters for hiring a superintendent.

"It is appropriate that candidates for the school board participate in defining the candidate profile, interviewing applicants and selecting the finalist," Buttimer said in a written statement. "One, two or three of us will be seated on the board of education and will have to work with a new superintendent in a matter of months. Allowing candidates to play a large role in the interview and selection process will ensure a smooth transition."

Board members Stephanie Clark, Kurt Buchholz, Bruce Currie and Linda D'Ambrosio voted last week to allow Gordon's contract to expire in June despite parent and teacher outcry. The same four also decided to hire search consultants from BWP & Associates. Clark and Buchholz are seeking re-election.

The board will meet Tuesday with representatives from the Libertyville-based firm to "develop a comprehensive search calendar and strategy." The firm has indicated a selection could be made in eight to 10 weeks.

In an interview Monday, Buttimer said she's delivered the request to the board and BWP & Associates. She said Clark told her there will be more information about how community members can be involved after Tuesday.

Clark did not immediately return a phone call Monday.

"Details about opportunities for community engagement will be shared throughout the search process," Clark wrote in a district email.

Buttimer, the secretary for the district's PTA Council, urged the board to make community engagement a priority in the search for a superintendent who would oversee four elementary schools and one junior high.

"The search process and timeline should be designed to find the best superintendent and not be constrained by who will be in office to make the vote," she said in the statement. "We are not asking this board to delay a vote but are asking to be involved from the beginning so there is no reason to artificially rush this important decision ... ."

Buttimer works part time as a freelance research consultant and as capital campaign coordinator for Lombard-based Prairie Food Co-op. Estes, a software engineer, and Hill, a former Chicago teacher, said they want to participate to bring credibility and "greater diversity of opinion" to the search.

Clark said last week the split with Gordon wasn't personal or related to programming.

"I wish Paul all the best. I may not agree with him on everything, and I can assure you that I'm trying to make a decision that is best for the kids in our district," Clark said.

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