COVID-19, equity/diversity are top priorities in Dist. 220 superintendent search
People who gave input in the search for a new Barrington Area Unit District 220 superintendent want someone who can tackle the aftermath of COVID-19 as well as equity, diversity and inclusion.
Those were major themes from 14 focus groups attended by 89 stakeholders -- school board members, staff members, students, parents, and community and business leaders -- and an online questionnaire answered by 838 people, consultants from School Exec Connect told the school board Tuesday night.
"By and large there is a tremendous amount of pride in Barrington 220," said consultant Tim Shimp, who also is superintendent for Yorkville Community Unit School District 115.
School Exec Connect was hired to search for a replacement for Superintendent Brian Harris, who's retiring June 30. The board will have a first round of interviews with candidates in closed session Dec. 1, followed by second-round interviews later in December.
The next superintendent will have to deal with how to move forward from COVID-19, Shimp said. "Every focus group talked about it. What does post-COVID look like in Barrington? What is the learning loss? What's the morale? What's the climate?"
The district this year hired Nate Rouse as its first director of equity, race and cultural diversity initiatives. The school board on Tuesday approved an equity statement that will support its plans to create a more equitable and inclusive school system.
According to the feedback, the district's top educational challenge is understanding and support of diversity, followed by having instructional methods that engage all students and closing the achievement gap among subgroups of students.
People want continued progress in meeting the needs of a diverse student population, including students with special needs, Shimp said.
Long-range strategic planning and implementation was seen as the top organizational challenge, he said.
The district's top educational strengths are quality of teaching staff and use of technology for learning, according to the feedback. People in the district have a strong sense of community and high expectations, with parents actively involved in their children's education, and take pride in the district's financial responsibility, Shimp said.
People want a student-centered superintendent who is knowledgeable about unit districts and has a clear, inspiring vision with transparency in decision-making, he said. Some of the focus groups also talked about increasing diversity among staff members, he said.
The district has about 8,300 students, 59.8% of whom are white, 18.1% Latino, 16.5% Asian, 1.6% Black, under 1% Native American/Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and 3.7% more than one race, according to district data.
There were 58 administrations as of Aug. 28, including 86.2% white, 6.89% Latino, 5.17% Black and 1.72% Asian/Pacific Islander. Among 1,173 teachers, 54.64% are white, 4.6% Latino, 2% Asian/Pacific Islander, and less than 1% Black and Native American/Pacific Islander, district data shows.