Superintendent Warren Shillingburg and the school board of Brookfield-LaGrange, Elementary School District 102 have agreed to part ways after this school year.
The mutual decision was made months ago. The district has been deficit-spending in recent years and is projecting an operating deficit of $1.86 million in 2014-15, leaving the district with a little less than $12 million in reserve at the end of the school year.
The school board is planning to seek a tax increase via a referendum sometime in the next couple years and apparently does not feel that Shillingburg, who has a calm and low-key manner, is the person to lead the referendum campaign.
Announcing that Shillingburg and the district will part ways after this school year, the school board issued a statement praising Shillingburg’s accomplishments since he came to District 102 in 2009, but said that the board is looking for a superintendent who had direct experience leading a referendum campaign.
“As the board and Dr. Shillingburg reflected on continuing to move forward after these extensive, and sometimes difficult, changes, they encountered differing visions of the school district’s future needs and recognized that a leadership change would benefit both the district and Dr. Shillingburg,” the statement from the board said. “This included the likely need for an operating fund referendum and the board’s interest in a superintendent with applicable experience.”
Two-term board member Joyce Fitch said the school board was also looking for a superintendent with a more extensive background in finance and strategic planning.
Shillingburg suggested that the election of three new board members approximately 18 months ago may have contributed to a desire for a change at the top.
“The board’s changed and the board is looking to move in the direction of supporting a referendum,” Shillingburg said. “They feel they need someone with a different skill set and I certainly want them to have someone they feel can support what they feel they need to do.”
Shillingburg, who in 2013-14 was paid a salary of $202,621, said he is looking to land a job in another district.
Prior to coming to District 102, Shillingburg worked as an assistant superintendent at Hinsdale Elementary School District 181.
Shillingburg downplayed the notion of any conflicts with board members, saying he and the board got along. He called the decision to part ways “mutual.”
“It’s just a different vision,” he said. “You have to have that relationship where you have that trust and respect for each other, and when you don’t it’s really important to make that change. The district will not be successful if you don’t have that.”
The school board has hired the firm School Exec Connect to conduct the search for a new superintendent. For the past couple of months the firm has been conducting outreach meetings and interviews with various stakeholder groups in the district trying to determine what qualities are most important to have in the new superintendent.
Consultants will present their new superintendent profile at the school board’s meeting on Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. at Park Junior High School, 333 N. Park Road in LaGrange Park.
On Nov. 14 the consultants will interview promising candidates, and on Nov. 19 they will meet with the school board in closed session and present a slate of six candidates to the board.
The school board will interview the six candidates in closed sessions on Nov. 20 and Nov. 21. The board plans to conduct second interviews with three finalists in early December and hopes to announce its new hire in late December or early January.
Shillingburg will remain at the helm in District 102 until July 1, 2015 when the new superintendent will start. His contract with the district expires at the end of the 2014-15 school year.