Glen Ellyn District 41 superintendent a finalist for Washington job

  • Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 Superintendent Paul Gordon has been named one of three finalists for the top administrative post in a school district in Washington state.

      Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 Superintendent Paul Gordon has been named one of three finalists for the top administrative post in a school district in Washington state. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer, October 2018

  • Paul Gordon

    Paul Gordon

 
 

Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 Superintendent Paul Gordon has a new job prospect less than a month after a slim majority of the school board decided to let his contract expire at the end of the June.

Gordon has been named one of three finalists for the top administrative post in a school district in Wenatchee, Washington. After advancing past an initial, closed-door interview, Gordon was slated to appear at a public forum Thursday afternoon as the third of three superintendent finalists selected by the Wenatchee school board.

At the same time, Glen Ellyn search consultants were holding focus groups Thursday to help develop a profile of District 41's next leader.

The board's decision to part ways with Gordon has riled teacher union leaders, high school administrators, three school board candidates in the April 2 election and parents who started an online petition and staged a rally calling for him to remain at the helm of the five-school district.

For their search, Wenatchee board members hired consultants from Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates. The Schaumburg-based firm has been involved in controversial superintendent hires in suburban districts in Des Plaines, Naperville and Highland Park, as well as school systems in Minnesota, Michigan, Tennessee and Texas, according to a Daily Herald review of HYA searches last year.

Gordon has been named a finalist for an open superintendent's position at least three other times since spring 2017. In his home state of Colorado, Gordon said he was recruited for the chief executive post in the state's second-largest school district. The board there hired search consultants from Ray and Associates Inc. -- the same firm District 41 used in a national search for a superintendent that resulted in Gordon's hiring in 2013.

Gordon also has been a front-runner for a superintendent's position in school districts in Mercer Island and Redmond in Washington, and in Geary County, Kansas.

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If he's hired in Wenatchee, Gordon could be taking a pay cut. Last November, the Wenatchee board agreed to set an anticipated base salary range between $170,000 and $180,000 for the new superintendent, according to The Wenatchee World and meeting minutes. In District 41, Gordon now receives $229,392 annually.

The District 41 school board voted 4-3 in January to start a national search to replace Gordon, who previously served as a chief academic officer in a suburban Denver district with roughly 42,000 students. The board members who want a new superintendent have had long-simmering issues with programming evaluations and a curriculum overhaul first developed by Gordon's predecessor.

"This isn't about a decision about programming," board President Stephanie Clark said at the time. "It's not personal. ... I think we work with Paul in a different capacity than the community does, and that's the best way I can explain it."

Gordon hasn't commented on the board's reasoning, but he has said he has a record in the district of reducing achievement gaps at the district level and at Churchill Elementary, taking steps to make the district more inclusive, building "model programs" of daily foreign language and dual-language and negotiating two teacher contracts that were "resolved with great expediency."

With Gordon in the charge, the district also secured voter approval for a $24.2 million construction plan.

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