District 59 begins search for Fessler's successor

  • Art Fessler

    Art Fessler

 
 
Updated 10/15/2020 3:30 PM
This story was updated on Oct. 15 after District 59 officials said they would only name the chosen superintendent candidate publicly, but no other finalists.

Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59 has launched a survey, plans to conduct focus groups and will hold open forums next week as officials begin their formal search for a new superintendent to replace Art Fessler at the end of the school year.

The feedback will be used by School Exec Connect, the Oak Park-based search firm the school board is contracting with, to develop a profile that will be reported to the board on Nov. 9 and used to develop a candidate pool.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The survey, which went online Tuesday and closes Nov. 6, asks about priorities the new superintendent should focus upon, what improvements are needed, and characteristics and skills they'd like to see in the new schools leader.

Focus groups with parents, community members, administrators, staff members and parent teacher organization and foundation members are scheduled Oct. 20 and 22. Those interested in participating are asked to fill out a separate survey on the district website.

A virtual open forum for parents and community members is scheduled for Oct. 20, and one for staff members on Oct. 22.

The survey data will be posted online Nov. 9 -- the same day the school board will receive the superintendent profile from the search firm.

The search is being led by consultants Tim Shimp and Jake Chung, who are currently suburban superintendents. Shimp leads Yorkville Community Unit School District 115. Chung, now the head of Villa Park-based Salt Creek Elementary District 48, is the former assistant superintendent of personnel and planning in Arlington Heights Elementary District 25.

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In a news release, the District 59 school board said the focus groups, open forums and surveys will be used to provide a voice to the entire learning community, though the board has decided to conduct a confidential search, and will name only the chosen candidate publicly.

The board announced in July that Fessler, superintendent since 2013, won't return after his contract expires in June 2021. He's faced criticism from some in the community for implementing a controversial curriculum that emphasizes students' learning experiences over more traditional textbook approaches, but he's been a staunch defender of the approach.

District 59 educates about 7,000 students, according to its latest state report card, at 11 elementary schools, and three junior high schools. The district also operates an early learning center.

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