Three months after announcing his resignation as superintendent of Brookfield-LaGrange Park District 95, Douglas Rudig has signed on as superintendent of Elmwood Park Unit School District 401. He will begin his new job July 1.

Meanwhile, the District 95 board next week is expected to post a job opening to find a replacement for Rudig, but will interview S.E. Gross Middle School Principal Thomas Hurlburt for the job before deciding whether to widen the search.

The District 401 Elmwood Park board announced Rudig’s hiring at its Jan. 18 meeting. He will replace current Superintendent Frank McKinzie, who is retiring after leading District 401 for the past five years.

District 401 serves some 4,800 students from kindergarten through high school. The district operates an early childhood learning center, two elementary schools, a middle school and Elmwood Park High School.

“I’ve been very proud to be superintendent in this district,” said Rudig of his tenure in District 95. “Through the strategic planning process, we made great strides to improve education, aligning with the high school, adding after-school programs, increasing test scores, I’ve been honored to be part of the district.”

Rudig announced his resignation to the District 95 board last October, citing “personal and professional reasons.”

In recent years, the district has also struggled financially, running large deficits in its education fund, which pays for day-to-day operating expenses. It has issued bonds to cover those cost overruns.

In April 2005, District 95 went to voters seeking a property tax increase to assure the solvency of that fund without resorting to teacher and program cuts. That tax referendum failed to gain voter approval, and the district will again ask voters for a tax hike this March, saying that if it fails again, the result will be drastic cuts, including a teacher per grade level, program reductions and elimination of all extracurricular activities and sports.

While Rudig did not tie his resignation from District 95 to any specific reason, he said that at District 401 he’ll enjoy a larger district that provides the central administrative office with more support staff.

“In a smaller district there is no business manager, so that falls to the superintendent,” Rudig said. “There’s no director of curriculum, or even of buildings and grounds. District 401 is a larger district that has a business manager and assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

“That will allow me to focus more on the bigger picture, and take over leadership in a collaborative manner. There’s a wider range of collaboration and leadership.”

It’s also a setting with which Rudig is familiar. Prior to coming to District 95, Rudig served for four years as superintendent of a K-12 unit district in Ansonia, Conn.

D95 board to post position

Despite knowing of Rudig’s departure since October, the District 95 Board of Education still has not posted a job notice for his replacement.

The board is expected to officially post the opening after its next board meeting on Feb. 13, but appears to be focusing its attention on Hurlburt, who has expressed an interest in the job and has received public support from colleagues and parents at previous board meetings.

A committee made up of administrators, teachers and parents is expected to interview Hurlburt after the job is posted, and board Vice President John LaBarbera said he’d like to know by no later than the end of March whether the board needs to expand the search to other candidates.

Hurlburt was hired at Gross School principal in 2001 after spending two years as assistant principal at Park Junior High in LaGrange Park, and has the enthusiastic backing of Rudig, who played an active role in his hiring. Hurlburt is currently working on his doctorate at Aurora University and already holds a superintendent’s certificate.

“I very honestly can’t say enough good things about Tom Hurlburt,” Rudig said. “I’ve certainly connected with him, and I’ve discussed areas of central office responsibility with him.

He’d be a fine candidate for this district or any other district should he choose to seek out other opportunities.”