Two retired school administrators are going to share the job of interim superintendent at Riverside Elementary School District 96 during the 2015-16 school year.
On Tuesday night, the District 96 Board of Education voted unanimously to hire Patrick Patt and Griff Powell as co-interim superintendents.
Patt and Powell will officially begin working at District 96 on June 15, and they are expected to stay on the job until June 30, 2016.
They are sharing the job because they cannot work for than 100 days each for a school district without losing their six-figure pensions from the Illinois Teacher Retirement System.
Patt, 69, and Powell, 68, are both experienced superintendents who have worked together as co-interim superintendents before. They shared the job in South Berwyn School District 100 in 2003-04 school year and again worked together at Lyons-Brookfield District 103 for about six months in 2006.
Earlier this year, they were again hired in District 103 but resigned at the end of April after only two weeks on the job when a new school board majority was elected with the backing of Lyons Village President Christopher Getty.
The new school board majority had made it clear that they were going to replace Patt and Powell with a more politically connected retired superintendent.
“We are very excited to have them on,” said Jeffrey Miller, the president of the District 96 school board. “We interviewed three pairs of interims. … We felt like we would have been good with any of them, but we were very impressed by Mr. Patt and Dr. Powell for a couple of reasons. One is that they have done this before as a team, and we felt that was very important.”
Patt and Powell will be paid $750 a day and receive no benefits. Miller said that the other two teams of retired superintendents were looking to be paid either $900 or $1,000 a day.
The two administrators will each work a couple a days a week. Probably for one day a week neither one will be in the office, but one will always be on call.
“It’s really important that they work closely together and communicate well so things don’t fall between the cracks, and we know that things are being followed up on,” Miller said. “They’re very open. We talked to a bunch of people and no one had anything but positive things to say about them.”
Powell has been a superintendent at Niles High School District 219 and in other places. Patt was a superintendent for 18 years at Oak Grove District 68, a one-school district near Libertyville.
Patt also served for four years as a superintendent in River Grove, and both he and Powell have also done solo gigs as interim superintendents.
“They just seem like they’re very accomplished in many different areas,” Miller said. “They’ve worked in districts that are academically strong. They’ve worked in districts that are not as strong.
“They’ve just got a ton of experience and they seem like they’re very direct, very open, very easy to work with. They said they’re going to come in right away and meet all the administration, meet the staff, put everyone at their ease. We’re very excited about it.”
Patt and Powell plan to meet with outgoing superintendent Bhavna Sharma-Lewis on Friday before meeting with principals, teachers and other staff next week. They were at Tuesday’s board meeting where they met the principals and other top administrators in the district.
“Literally what we try to accomplish whenever we go anywhere, either individually or as the team that we’ve had for a while, is just leave the place a little bit better than it was when we got there,” Patt said. “We’re always looking to see if we can do some things to solve some issues or problems, but just to build on what’s there.”
The school board plans to conduct a search next year to find a permanent replacement for Sharma-Lewis, who is leaving next month after two years in District 96.