District 214 school board candidates say next superintendent should be more visible
Candidates for the Northwest Suburban High School District 214 board say the district's next superintendent should be more visible in the community.
The two longest-serving board members, Bill Dussling and Alva Kreutzer, are involved in the search for David Schuler's replacement, just as they were involved in his hiring 17 years ago. They and the five other board members are set to interview candidates in closed session at 5 p.m. today and again at 2 p.m. Friday. Their first interviews were last Friday.
In a recent candidate interview with the Daily Herald Editorial Board, Dussling -- the board president -- said the leadership profile report compiled by search firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates "really reflected what the community was looking for" following a series of forums, surveys and focus group meetings.
"Certainly people want a superintendent who's going to be visible. They want a superintendent who's able to generate new programs and even carry the district to a higher level," he said.
"It's a difficult time to have a superintendent leave in the middle of the year," Dussling said of Schuler, who last month became executive director of the Alexandria, Virginia-based AASA, the national school superintendents association. "But I think we're doing well. I think the district is doing well. And we're looking forward to interviewing the candidates that have been brought forward."
Kreutzer agreed with the findings of the leadership report: that the new leader be the public face of the schools, be an advocate for teachers and students, articulate a clear vision, thoughtfully engage all voices in the community, be able to deal with conflict, and make difficult decisions.
"Case in point, the pandemic," Kreutzer said. "Things changed on a daily basis. And you need somebody strong in there that if something happens, they're able to communicate, get people together to come to an understanding, and come to an agreement."
Frank Fiarito, a River Trails Elementary District 26 board member who is running with Dussling and Kreutzer on the Friends of District 214 slate, said Schuler did "some great things" for the district but was lacking in his visibility.
"Buffalo Grove -- the coed cheerleading team won the state championship -- be there. Jazz in the Meadows, be there. The WildStang event at MacArthur school (in Prospect Heights), be there. A superintendent has opportunities to show themselves, to meet the public, to talk to people, and to just take pride in all the good things that are happening in our district," said Fiarito, who was involved in hiring the last two superintendents in District 26.
Elizabeth Bauer, a Schuler critic and regular board meeting attendee making her second run for office, said she wants a leader who is responsive to parents' and community members' concerns and works to find the right solution. She was one of the attendees of a public forum conducted by the search firm in January.
"Somebody who gets their hands dirty and really interacts with people, works with people (and) who is not going to adopt the latest fads, especially not going to try to implement things based on 'this is going to make us look good,'" Bauer said.
Misa Edwardsen, also a parent who has raised concerns at board meetings, said the new superintendent should live in the area to understand the diversity of the school cultures.
"I think with everything that's gone on in the last couple years -- being visible, being innovative, looking at the academic proficiencies, the safety in and around the buildings are important, and definitely being transparent with the community members," Edwardsen said. "When community members have concerns, I think it's important for the superintendent to be a part of the conversation and find a resolution that they can all agree upon, or at least be visible and listen to their concerns."
Three seats with 4-year terms are up for election on April 4.
Dussling said he wants to have a new superintendent hired by May, so the process could be done before any new board members take their seats.