Superintendent Bhavna Sharma-Lewis will not be leaving Riverside Elementary School District 96 empty handed. Sharma-Lewis, who will become superintendent at Diamond Lake District 76 on July 1, taking two District 96 principals with her.
Steve Juracka, the principal of L.J. Hauser Junior High School and Kurt Preble, the principal of Hollywood School, will be joining Sharma-Lewis in Diamond Lake.
Juracka and Preble were among four new administrators hired Tuesday night by the Diamond Lake School District 76 Board of Education.
Juracka was hired as the district’s director of teaching, learning and innovation and Preble was hired as the principal of Diamond Lake School, a school for second- through fourth-graders.
“I am looking forward to the opportunity to grow professionally, focus on student growth and learning, and continue my work in promoting equity and excellence in education,” Juracka said.
Their hires were part of a package approved by a 4 to 2 vote by the Diamond Lake school board and announced in a press release on the website of Diamond Lake District 76.
The new jobs are come with substantial pay raises. Juracka’s salary in Diamond Lake will be $130,000. He was making $115,000 this year in District 96. Preble will be earning $103,000 in Diamond Lake. He was making $78,000 as a principal at Hollywood School.
Both Juracka and Preble are in their first years as principals in District 96. Preble was a teacher in District 96 before he became principal at Hollywood one year ago, while Juracka served in administrative positions in other districts before coming to Hauser last summer.
Both Juracka and Preble have received generally good reviews from parents this year for their work as principals.
“It’s always disappointing to lose such highly qualified administrators, but at the same time we recognize that people have to make the right decisions for their own careers, so that if they think this is a good move we certainly recognize and respect that,” said Jeffrey Miller, the president of the District 96 Board of Education.
Members of the District 96 school board learned of the resignations on Wednesday morning. Both Juracka and Preble will finish out the school year at their current positions and will not begin working in Diamond Lake, which is in Mundelein, until July 1.
Miller said the district will immediately look to hire new principals at Hauser and Hollywood. The positions were immediately posted on the District 96 website.
“There are other good people out there. Our district is very strong. We pay well,” Miller said. “We’re a highly regarded district, so I have no question that we’ll be able to find good people to replace them.”
Miller, who is the father of a Hauser sixth-grader, said that he has been very impressed with Juracka’s work during his one year as Hauser’s principal.
“He has done a lot of good things,” Miller said.
Juracka recommended modified block scheduling to provide additional time for math next year.
Jennifer Perry, the wife of former District 96 board member Art Perry and mother of a seventh-grader at Hauser, suggested that the resignations were the result of the way the board handled the departure of Sharma-Lewis.
“There are consequences for forcing a superintendent out and this is what it is,” Perry said. “Going into Hauser this year, I felt like for the first time that adults were in charge.”