Schuler leaving District 214 to head national superintendents group
Longtime Northwest Suburban High School District 214 Superintendent David Schuler -- named National Superintendent of the Year in 2018 by a national superintendents organization -- announced Thursday he's leaving his job in the Northwest suburbs to take the helm of that organization.
Schuler, who was hired in 2005 to oversee Illinois' second-largest high school district, will leave District 214 in mid-February to become executive director of AASA, the national School Superintendents Association.
"District 214 has been my professional home for the last 17 years and we have made incredible progress during that time in preparing students for life beyond high school, especially in regard to the expansion of our early college credit and career readiness programs," Schuler wrote in a letter to parents Thursday. "I look forward to the new opportunity to share all that we have done in District 214 with district and school leaders across the country. It has been an honor to serve this school community as your superintendent as this is a truly, truly special place."
Schuler will replace Daniel Domenech, who is retiring from the Alexandria, Virginia-based association after 14 years at the helm. Founded in 1865, the professional organization counts more than 13,000 superintendents, chief executive officers and senior level school administrators among its membership. Schuler will join the organization as executive director-designate on Jan. 1 for crossover and an orderly transition with Domenech.
"This is a dream job. That's my second dream job," Schuler said of his current and future roles. "So when it became open, I felt that it was an important opportunity -- because it only comes up every 14 to 16 years -- to take advantage of at least trying for it."
His announcement came in advance of the school board's monthly meeting Thursday night, where board members praised him for his contributions to the district.
"I was so impressed with you and your out-of-the box thinking, your way to problem solve, your ability to demonstrate how you bring people together, how you think of opportunities, how you're so student-focused and centered," said board Vice President Millie Palmer.
In its announcement about Schuler's appointment, the association cited his work designing and implementing the District 214 Career Pathways program, which allows students to get early college credit, industry credentials and internships before leaving high school.
It was just Monday that first lady Jill Biden visited Rolling Meadows High School to highlight the program as part of National Apprenticeship Week.
Schuler was president of the superintendents organization during the 2015-16 school year when he launched the Redefining Ready! campaign, a framework that uses metrics like grade-point average, placement in advanced or dual credit courses, attendance and participation in co-curricular activities to define students as being college- and career-ready.
Schuler is still in the early part of a five-year contract extension, which he inked with the District 214 school board in April 2021. The agreement runs from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2026. He's currently making an annual base salary of $335,344.55.
Board President Bill Dussling, one of two current board members who was on the panel for Schuler's hiring, said the board began conversations about appointing a successor in closed session Thursday night, and promised to provide the community updates on the process.
"It's been my pleasure to serve with you," Dussling told Schuler during the meeting. "I was there in the search process when we hired you. It just goes a full loop. So thank you, thank you very much."
Schuler thanked board members for taking a "chance on a young superintendent" when they hired him. Now 52, the Wisconsin native started his career as a social studies teacher in Waukesha, and later was superintendent of the Stevens Point Area Public School District for three years and the Marshall Public Schools for two years.