Lyons-Brookfield School District 103 has once again turned to an arm of the Illinois Association of School Boards to conduct a search for a new superintendent.
In the wake of Carol Baker’s resignation this summer to take a job in Hinsdale, the district is being led by co-interim superintendents, Patrick Patt and Robert Madonia.
The District 103 Board of Education voted 4-0 on Sept. 24 to hire the IASB to conduct its search for a new superintendent, who will start in the in next summer. The IASB has led superintendent searches for District 103 before including the one that culminated with Baker being hired in 2016.
Alan Molby, a retired superintendent who led Hillside School District 93 for 14 years, who now works for the IASB will lead the search. Molby also worked on the search that brought Baker to District 103.
The IASB is generally the cheapest alternative for superintendent searches. The district will pay the IASB $7,900 for the search. Private search firms are typically much more expensive.
“The ISAB does a real professional job of it,” Patt said. “Some of the private search firms charge double or triple that.”
One reason the IASB is cheaper than private search firms is that they typically do not go out and recruit candidates for the job.
“We like to say we attract,” Molby told the school board when he made his presentation to the board at the Sept. 10 meeting. “That’s why we don’t have to recruit.”
Molby is working with the district to create a survey that is available on the district’s website and perhaps sent out to parents to get input on what stakeholders believe are the most important attributes for a new superintendent to have.
The results of the survey will be used to create a candidate profile that will be posted on various websites. The ISAB will also create a brochure describing the district and the job opening.
After the candidate profile is created, applications will be accepted for about six to eight weeks, Molby said. Then Molby and other consultants from IASB will review and investigate applicants and pick six to eight to bring before the school board for interviews.
Two or three finalists are typically brought back for second interviews, which are likely to take place in December or January, Molby said.
“Our hope is that they’ll get interviewing done prior to the holidays, but again we’ve not decided a definite time frame yet,” Molby said.
In any case, the hire is almost certain to take place before next spring’s school board elections. The last election switched control of the school board from board members backed by Lyons Village President Christopher Getty to board members not affiliated with Getty.
Four board seats are up next spring, three of which are held by Getty-backed candidates. The other seat up for election is held by longtime incumbent Joanne Schaeffer who is part of the current majority.
Patt has expressed concern that some good candidates might not apply for the superintendent job because of concerns about political infighting in the district and because they would not know who would hold the school board majority when they actually began work next summer.
Patt, who served as the co-interim superintendent in Riverside Elementary School District 96 in 2015-16 informally reached out to Merryl Brownlow, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction at District 96 who he worked with there, to see if she would be interested in applying for the Lyons superintendent job.
But Brownlow, who recently earned her doctorate in education, said that she was not interested.
“I’m meeting with a lot of success in my current position, and at this time I’m not interested in that position,” Brownlow told the Landmark.
Molby said that he didn’t think that the political fights in the district would have a big impact in discouraging applicants.
“I would have no reason to think that it would,” Molby said.
At the Sept. 24 school board meeting, Patt went to so far to warn Getty not to run a slate of school board candidates in next spring’s elections.
Patt said that district needs stability and that politics has no place in schools. Patt pointed out that all three Getty-backed candidates, including two incumbents, lost in the 2017 school board elections and he said that he hoped that Getty would not risk another defeat.
“I’m hoping he really thinks hard and long about whether there really needs to be a slate of candidates who would not be here for the right reason, but would be here to politicize the school system,” said Patt, who added he offered to meet with Getty. “So that’s my fatherly advice, because I know the mayor is very young and I actually was a school superintendent before the mayor was born.”