Superintendent Heid to leave District 300 for Florida schools
Community Unit District 300 Superintendent Fred Heid is leaving at the end of this school year to lead a larger Florida school district.
The Polk County Public Schools board Tuesday voted to hire Heid as superintendent of the district serving nearly 106,000 students. Heid was chosen from among five finalists for the job.
Contract negotiations are underway to determine Heid's salary and benefits. The Polk County school board is expected to approve the contract during its May 11 meeting. Heid's start date there would be July 1.
Heid has led the Algonquin-based district -- the state's sixth-largest, educating 21,000 students and employing more than 3,400 people -- for seven years.
"I have built some amazing relationships with people here ... not just employees, but with families, community members," Heid said. "It's a great community. It's been a fabulous place for us to raise our son. It's one of the things that is hard to leave behind, the sense of community."
Heid cites among his accomplishments establishing a six-year curriculum review cycle, starting a full-day kindergarten program and increasing staffing, including hiring full-time substitute teachers, reading and mathematics interventionists, art/STEM teachers for elementary schools, and guidance counselors for middle schools and high schools.
"We have invested significantly in resources and supports for our students and teachers," he said.
Under Heid's leadership, District 300 became the first suburban district to adopt a trauma-informed teaching and intervention program for early grades called the DREAM Academy. The program targets at-risk first- through fifth-graders at Perry Elementary School in Carpentersville who are struggling with emotional traumas or behavioral issues.
The district also expanded its high school career pathways programs and launched a partnership with Elgin Community College allowing students to earn college credit while in high school.
"We've done great work here," Heid said. "I could stay here forever. But if I'm going to move, now is the time."
Heid said he wasn't looking for a job, but the opportunity presented itself last fall soon after his District 300 contract was extended for another five years with an annual salary of $230,000. He said his son will be starting high school this fall, making it an opportune time to move back to his native state.
Polk County, between Orlando and Tampa, is largely rural with farmlands and home to one of the 30 largest and fast-growing school districts in the nation.
"They are projected to grow by almost 45,000 (students) in the next 20 years," Heid said. "They have some unique problems with some low-performing schools."
Heid started his teaching career in Sarasota County, Florida, public schools. He previously served as chief academic officer for Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville, Florida, and with the Florida Department of Education.
The District 300 school board will discuss the search for the next superintendent at its May 11 meeting.
"We do have good succession leadership in place," Heid said. "I have really worked hard to groom people so the board will have internal choices."