Updated July 2, 2:30 p.m.
Former Riverside-Brookfield High School Superintendent/Principal Jack Baldermann was hired last week as the new principal at Westmont High School, which serves about 500 students from west suburban Westmont and portions of Clarendon Hills and Downers Grove.
The Community Unit School District 201 board voted 6 to 1 to hire Baldermann, who worked for RBHS District 208 for eight years between 2001 and 2009, serving as both superintendent and principal for his final seven years. Westmont District 201 School board President Marie Charlton cast the only vote against hiring Baldermann.
Charlton declined to comment on why she voted against hiring Baldermann.
“I support the decision of the board,” Charlton said in an email.
Baldermann’s new boss, District 201 Superintendent Kevin Carey, worked under Baldermann in the 1990s when both worked at Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park. Carey served as the associate principal at Sandburg when Baldermann was Sandburg’s principal.
“That figured into having Jack enter the interview process,” Carey said. “Education is a small world, so that I had other people that I had first-hand knowledge of or even worked with who also applied for the principalship.
“My relationship with Jack, and knowing first-hand the quality administrator he was, influenced him entering the process, but then truly it was the input from the committee and the fact that he was the consensus choice.”
Carey recommended that the Westmont school board hire Baldermann, saying Baldermann sets high expectations for students and has proven he can implement programs allowing students to meet those expectations.
“When the board listened to Jack and looked at his experience and what he has been able to do for high schools and school districts, that’s why they went with the recommendation to hire him,” Carey said.
Baldermann resigned from his position at RBHS in 2009 after a difficult final year that included a brief suspension for what was termed an inappropriate relationship with a staff member at the school. Baldermann’s superintendent certification lapsed for nearly a year in 2007 and 2008, in what Baldermann described as a bureaucratic snafu, because he failed to take enough continuing education classes.
The Westmont school board was aware of those issues, Carey said.
“That was something we definitely considered,” said District 201 Superintendent Kevin Carey, who recommended hiring Baldermann. “If you would talk to Jack Baldermann, he would say that definitely he made some mistakes. He’s learned from those mistakes and there’s not a concern that anything would be repeated.”
Baldermann is considered an educational visionary by many. Under his direction, RBHS was ranked as one of the best high schools in Illinois by Newsweek magazine which rated schools by the number of students taking Advanced Placement classes. He also recruited a strong faculty and generally roused a once sleepy high school.
For the last two years, Baldermann has been working for the Hartford, Conn., public school system. In 2011-12, Baldermann was the principal of the Engineering and Green Technology Academy at Hartford Public High School. He also served as executive principal of the entire high school of which the academy is a part. During his time in Hartford, Baldermann also served as a supervisor for principals.
Baldermann was chosen for the Westmont job from a field of more than 60 applicants. He will be paid a salary of $125,000, much less than he was making at RBHS, where he served a dual role as principal and superintendent.
“Westmont is an excellent school, and I look forward to working with the entire school community to build a team that will make it one of the best high schools in Illinois,” Baldermann said in an email.
Former colleague Tim Scanlon, who was Baldermann’s assistant principal for curriculum and instruction at RBHS, was happy that Baldermann is returning to Illinois.
“It’s good for Illinois education,” Scanlon said. “I did and still do admire him as an educational leader. He is a true visionary.”
Former District 208 school board President Larry Herbst said that Baldermann excels in the role of principal.
“I’m very happy for Jack, and it’s a wonderful opportunity for Westmont High School,” Herbst said.