Lea to retire after 12 years as Libertyville-Vernon Hills superintendent
Superintendent Prentiss Lea, a veteran educator who has led Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 for 12 years, will retire at the end of the school year.
Lea announced the move Tuesday during the school board's regular meeting and followed up this morning with a letter to students and parents at Libertyville and Vernon Hills high schools.
The decision was not a surprise. Lea's retirement had been discussed with the school board more than a year ago but was not announced publicly until Tuesday night.
In the announcement, Lea said he will turn 64 in May and at the end of school year will have completed 41 "very special" years as an educator.
"It is among the highest honors of my life to lead this creative, innovative and amazing school district, and it is simply time for the next generation of leaders, teachers and support staff to take the district to the next level," he said.
Former District 128 Superintendent David Clough and former New Trier District 203 Superintendent Linda Yonke will facilitate the search for a replacement. Clough is a partner and Yonke is a senior associate with School Exec Connect, a consulting and search firm.
The process will begin in early October, with a hire anticipated in January.
Lea's contract had been set to expire in June 2018. But in 2017, he received a four-year extension through June 2022. His base annual salary is $303,008, according to the district website.
During earlier retirement discussions, Lea had been asked to stay through the end of the current year to see through more than $30 million in construction projects at both schools and build a leadership team to transition to a new superintendent.
Lea said his career has covered virtually every position at the high school level, including teacher, coach, department chair, dean, assistant principal, principal at three schools, associate superintendent and finally, superintendent at the "best high school district in the country."
The district's evolution from being "historically outstanding, regionally recognized" to consistently ranking among the best in the country is the result of a collective focus by current and former school boards, administrators, teachers and staff, students and parents, he said.
School board President Pat Groody said Lea has had an "unbelievable ability to recruit, retain and develop" district leaders.
"Without a doubt, we've been very fortunate," Groody said.
"In a year where this board is challenged with many big decisions there will be none larger than filling these big shoes," he said.
Lea said retirement will provide time to pursue the next journeys in life with his family "whatever that might entail and wherever that might take us."
"We have much work to complete together before the end of the (2020-21) school year, and no matter how challenging issues like the pandemic may be, I look forward to completing that work with you," he said.