By Bob Skolnik
Bob Chleboun spent his last week as principal at Blythe Park School being showered with gifts in appreciation of his 10 years as principal. He has received fruit and chocolate, a plant, an edible arrangement and more.
More will come on Wednesday, the last day of school this year at Blythe Park, in what promises to be an emotional day for parents, students, staff, alumni and, perhaps most of all, for Chleboun himself.
To cap off the day, about 50 alumni are going to be on hand at the "clap out," where younger students give their traditional send-off to fifth-graders headed to Hauser Junior High, at about 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday.
In January, Chleboun announced that he was resigning as Blythe Park's principal. On July 1, he will take over as principal of Liberty Elementary School in Carpentersville. He was hired in late April by the Community Unit District 300 school board.
Chleboun was a beloved figure at Blythe Park among parents, students and staff. Parents lauded Chleboun for his caring attitude, noting that he was always in front of the school in the mornings as students came to school and in the afternoons when students left the school.
"He's going to be missed terribly by me and by a lot of parents," said Susan Casey the president of the Blythe Park PTA. "With Bob there was always something so reassuring and exciting about him. You always knew that when your child left for the day that they were being taken care and they were his first priority."
But, Chleboun apparently never meshed with new superintendent Bhavna Sharma-Lewis.
Chleboun declined to discuss his relationship with Sharma-Lewis with the Landmark.
"I have no comment on that," Chleboun said.
Instead, Chleboun preferred to talk about his relationship with the Blythe Park School community.
"It's been an incredible 10 years of working with outstanding students, staff, and parents," Chlebourn said. "You can't ask for a better school."
Chleboun will be taking an approximately 22-percent pay cut at his new job. He will be paid $106,106 at Liberty Elementary School compared to the $136,395 he is making this year at Blythe Park.
Liberty Elementary School has nearly 800 students — about four times larger than Blythe Park School.
"It sounds like a great place from what I've been hearing about it," Chleboun said. "It's a new journey, new experience."
As part of his resignation agreement with Riverside Elementary School District 96 Chleboun, waived any right to sue the district and the district agreed to remove Sharma-Lewis's observation of Chleboun from his personnel file.
Prior to the 2013-14 school year, District 96 principals also had district wide responsibilities as well as being building leaders. Chleboun in addition to being Blythe Park's principal was also director of English Language Learning, served as the district's residency coordinator and homeless liaison, was the science curriculum chair and wellness coordinator and oversaw the gym, music and art programs.
Chleboun said that the elimination of his district wide responsibilities played no role in his decision to leave District 96.
Chleboun said that members of the Blythe Park School community have been reaching out to him letting him know that he will be missed.
"They're going to be missed as well," Chleboun said. "It's a great community."