The wheels of the search for a new superintendent in Lyons-Brookfield District 103 have started moving, but board members will have to ramp up the process quickly to meet their goal of having a new superintendent in place by July 1.

Alan Molby of the Illinois Association of School Boards told board members that the “timing is good” to start a search when he appeared at a Committee of the Whole meeting Thursday, Jan. 14.

Kyle Hastings, District 103’s interim superintendent, said he expects the board to approve a contract with the association at the Monday, Jan. 25 regular meeting. He said that Molby was asked to make a presentation to the board after members chose the association from among six firms. 

District 103 also used the association in 2012 when the school board hired Mary Jo Vladika as superintendent. Vladika retired in March; Hastings has been serving as interim superintendent since May. 

Because the District 103 already belongs to the association, it qualifies for the member rate of $7,400 for the basic search. According to Molby, the figure will include follow-up services. Available for additional cost would be such services as online surveys of community or staff; in-district interviews of community or staff; and in-district mock interview training for board members.

Molby allayed concerns about having a sufficient amount of time by explaining how the Internet has sped up the process for a superintendent search. Previously, vacancy announcements had to be printed and mailed; now they are posted online as soon as they are created. Similarly, applications and resumes previously were mailed; now they are submitted electronically.

In response to a question from board member Mark Camasta, Molby said he believes the district has time to conduct an electronic survey of parents and/or staff members regarding what traits and characteristics they want to see in the next superintendent, predicting it could be done in two weeks. 

However, board member Joanne Schaeffer noted the lack of a database of e-mail addresses would make it difficult for the district to solicit input from community members not affiliated with the schools.

If the contract with the Illinois Association of School Boards is signed Jan. 25 as expected, board members will need to provide the association with a list of qualifications and an application deadline. 

Once the position is posted, Molby predicted the district would start receiving applications within a month. He said the association is currently conducting 20 executive searches with five more expected, but he said he did not anticipate any difficulty in adding a search for District 103 to its list.

Molby said the association would publicize the position nationally and screen applicants, verifying their credentials and conducting a limited background inquiry. The association will recommend as many finalists as board members stipulate to be interviewed (suggesting that number to be six), help board members prepare for interviews and assist with scheduling.

Molby suggested that board members narrow the list of finalists to two, but Camasta suggested keeping that number at three, recalling how one of two finalists withdrew from a previous search, which left the board without a final choice. 

Camasta also suggested the interviews be scheduled as close together as possible to keep observations of individual candidates fresh. 

Schaeffer stressed the importance of having all seven board members at each interview. 

Molby agreed, saying, “Everybody looks good on paper.”

Camasta, Schaeffer and Sharon Anderson have been involved in previous searches, unlike Michael Bennett, Jorge Torres, Katie Broderick and Coleen Shipbaugh, who are each in their first term on the school board.