Barrington school district wants input on superintendent search

  • The Barrington Area Unit District 220 board discusses the search for its next superintendent.

    The Barrington Area Unit District 220 board discusses the search for its next superintendent. Courtesy of Barrington Area Unit District 220

 
 
Updated 10/9/2020 7:41 PM

The Barrington Area Unit District 220 board would like to know which qualities the community would like to see in a new superintendent.

"We understand we are living in unsettling times and we believe, now more than ever, it's important to work together," board President Penny Kazmier said at this week's board meeting.

 

There will be an online questionnaire, focus groups and two virtual forums, one for the staff and one for the community at large.

Superintendent Brian Harris will retire June 30 after seven years. The board hired the consulting firm School Exec Connect, based in Oak Park, to conduct a search for his replacement at a fee of $23,500 plus no more than $2,500 in expenses.

The school board took up the consulting firm's recommendation to use a variety of methods to solicit feedback. "They are doing all they can to gather input from community and all the stakeholders," said Kevin O'Mara, president of School Exec Connect.

The consultant is in charge of advertising the position regionally and locally, as well as recruiting applicants and conducting a first round of interviews. A slate of semifinalists -- typically five to seven -- will be presented to the board, which will then conduct its own interviews, O'Mara said. Typically boards select three finalists who go through a lengthier round of final interviews, he said.

O'Mara expects "a large and diverse" group of candidates for District 220, which he called a "destination" district with a great reputation and an engaged community. The COVID-19 pandemic likely will necessitate virtual, rather than in-person, interviews with out-of-state-candidates, "but I don't see it as a huge obstacle," he said.

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O'Mara, who retired in 2017 as superintendent of Argo Community High School District 217, said nowadays school boards generally look for leaders who are more reflective of the communities they serve. "It used to be when I started working in public education that the vast, vast majority of superintendents where white males," he said.

Here are ways to give input:

• Online questionnaire at surveymonkey.com/r/Brgtn_Supt through Oct. 30.

• Virtual community forum at 7 p.m. Nov. 2. It is open to the public, but registration is required at barrington220.org/Page/20490. A separate virtual forum for staff members also will take place Nov. 2.

• Select people will be invited to focus groups tentatively taking place Oct. 28. Board members suggested inviting community volunteer groups, local government representatives, and members of the district's educational foundation, alumni association and referendum advisory committee, among others.

The findings from the questionnaire, the virtual forums and the focus groups will be used to develop a "new superintendent profile" that staff members will present at the board meeting Nov. 17.

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