In a move anticipated since late last year, the Brookfield-LaGrange Park Elementary School District 95 board last Thursday announced that Thomas Hurlburt will take over as superintendent on July 1.

Hurlburt, 39, who has been principal at S.E. Gross Middle School in Brookfield since 2001, was the unanimous choice of board members and the only candidate interviewed for the job. He will replace Douglas Rudig, who announced his resignation last October and who was hired in January as superintendent at Elmwood Park Unit District 401.

“I’m extremely excited to build on the foundation we have built,” Hurlburt said shortly after signing a three-year contract in the presence of Rudig, the school board and a small crowd of residents, including former District 95 board members MariAnn Leibrandt, Gerald Werner and Susan Kleinmeyer, who hired Hurlburt five years ago.

As soon as he learned Rudig would not be coming back for the 2006-07 school year, Hurlburt said the impulse to apply for the post “struck me immediately, primarily because it was such a great opportunity to continue on in this district.”

For his part, Rudig expressed a deep satisfaction with the board’s decision to move ahead with Hurlburt’s hiring.

“I’m in full support,” Rudig said. “I certainly think he’s an excellent candidate, and have absolutely 100-percent confidence he’ll do an excellent job. He possesses all of the qualities an excellent educator needs?”honesty, integrity, a great work ethic, knowledge of education and a dedication to the community.”

Meanwhile, school board President James Landahl pointed to Hurlburt’s work at S.E. Gross School as a primary example of what impressed board members.

“He has accomplished a turnaround at S.E. Gross,” Landahl said. “It’s a more exciting environment, staff are excited, student performance has increased and he’s clamped down on discipline problems. It’s a real positive environment. It’s exactly what we needed at S.E. Gross.

“If he can do that with the district, we’ll be in real good shape.”

Hurlburt identified two strategic issues he said he would focus on as the district’s new superintendent. The first is finalizing the district’s strategic planning process, which encompasses everything from curriculum and instruction to the organization of the district.

“We’re responding to the voice of the community,” Hurlburt said. “They’ve identified need areas such as all-day kindergarten and expanding technology, band and enrichment programs.”

The other issue facing the district is the upkeep and potential renovation of its two school buildings. The district’s architectural firm is in the midst of a series of community workshops (the fourth of which has not yet been scheduled, but should be soon) seeking input on such projects.

It’s critical to finalize the strategic plan, Hurlburt said, “because the curriculum needs to drive what we do with the buildings.”

Search for middle school principal

After voting to hire Hurlburt for the district’s top job, board members posted the position for S.E. Gross Middle School principal. The board said it would accept applications until April 30.

“I’m very confident we’ll be able to find someone,” Hurlburt said. “During spring break is when a lot of people are graduating with their certificates or assessing their current situations. We’re still in good shape to find a quality candidate.”

Superintendent’s profile

Thomas Hurlburt

Age: 39
Marital status: Married, four children
Hometown: Lombard
A.A. College of DuPage
B.A. Lewis University, social work, psychology
M.A. University of Illinois-Chicago, social work
M.A. Governor’s State University, educational administration
A.B.D. Aurora University, education leadership

Work history
1991-98 Administrator, Special Education Services. Hurlburt served as administrator for this private special education service provider, running schools in Park Forest, Hillside and Aurora.

1998-99 Principal, School Association for Special Education in DuPage County (SASED). Hurlburt was principal for Aura, a short-lived joint venture between SASED and the DuPage County Probation Department.

1999-2001 Assistant Principal, Park Junior High, LaGrange Park

2001-06 Principal, S.E. Gross Middle School, Brookfield