New superintendent picked to lead District 300
Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300 Chief Operating Officer Susan Harkin was named the district's next -- and first female -- superintendent at a school board meeting Tuesday night.
Harkin, who was hired as District 300's chief operating and financial officer in 2012, also has previously served as chief financial officer of Crystal Lake Elementary District 47. As chief operating officer, Harkin oversaw District 300's operating funds and core operational departments.
She replaces outgoing Superintendent Fred Heid, who is leaving at the end of the school year to lead Polk County Public Schools in Florida. Heid started his teaching career in Sarasota County, Florida, public schools. He also served as the chief academic officer for Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville, Florida, and worked with the Florida Department of Education.
Heid has led District 300, the state's sixth-largest school district, for the past seven years.
Harkin's selection as superintendent was approved unanimously by the school board.
"This truly is an amazing day for me," said Harkin, whose father and husband were with her at the meeting.
Harkin gets her love for education from her parents, she said. Her father drove school buses, and her mother was a school secretary.
"My passion for public education comes from their role modeling," she said.
When she becomes superintendent, Harkin said, she hopes to continue "the district's legacy" of being focused on its students and staff and having a collaborative culture.
During her time as chief operating officer, Harkin developed a long-term plan to fund capital projects, developed and maintained a master facility plan for District 300, and played a "crucial" role in the district's expansion of tuition-free, full-day kindergarten. She also helped execute one of the largest 1:1 technology programs in Illinois, according to the district. Under 1:1 programs, every student gets a technological device.
The terms and conditions of Harkin's employment as superintendent are still being worked through with the district's attorney. Once these are finalized, Harkin's superintendent contract will be brought back before the school board for approval, and she will be poised to assume her new role July 1.
Harkin has a bachelor's degree in accounting and a master's in school business administration, both from Northern Illinois University. She also has completed her doctorate coursework in education from Concordia University, according to District 300.
She and her husband, Bill, have six children, who all graduated from District 300 schools.
Heid's last day as superintendent is set for June 30.
"It is with very mixed emotions that I announce that I will be leaving District 300," Heid said at Tuesday's meeting. "District 300 has been home to me and my family for the last seven years."
Heid said teachers and schools have supported his son, who attends a District 300 school, and the people he works with have seen him at his best and worst.
"They've been through every major life crisis I've had since I've been here," Heid said. "This district has given me more than I feel I've given you. But I have given you my all."
"I'm so proud of the work we've accomplished," Heid said. "It is not me. It is we."