When the 2019-20 school year starts later this summer at Brook Park School in LaGrange Park, not only will students be greeted by a newly expanded campus but by a new principal who will oversee the school’s new K-2 wing at the south end of the building.
Michael Sorensen, the school’s principal for the past 12 years, will remain as Brook Park’s principal for grades three through five. The K-2 and 3-5 wings will have their own administrative offices, each with its own secretary and health official – even their own separate entrances.
“It’s still one campus. It’s just a segregation of duties for principals,” said Brookfield-LaGrange Park District 95 Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski, who noted that one of the initial concepts for expanding District 95’s facilities was to build a separate K-2 building on the site of Madlin Park in Brookfield.
District 95 posted the position about a month ago and will be accepting applications through April 1, said Kuzniewski, who added his hope was for the Board of Education to approve hiring the new K-2 principal at its April 25 meeting.
“We’re certainly looking at previous administrative experience, though it doesn’t have to be K-2 experience,” Kuzniewski said. “We’re looking at strong instructional leaders, people who know how to integrate technology and engage students.”
Kuzniewski added that the school district is looking for someone “who understands the sense of community and can work collaboratively with other administrators.
“We want to maintain that family feel there.”
The newly expanded Brook Park School will serve more than 900 students when classes resume in the fall, including a new full-day kindergarten and the district’s early childhood education program in addition to grades one through five.
Given that kind of growth, Kuzniewski said it made sense to separate administration of grades K-2 and 3-5.
“We’ve grown so big one person can’t do it all,” he said.
The needs of students in K-2 also differ from those in grades 3-5, said Kuzniewski.
Kuzniewski said Sorensen had right of first refusal to be considered for the K-2 slot, and that he chose grades 3-5.
“This was a collaborative effort and Mike is certainly more than happy we’re providing some support and help,” Kuzniewski said. “Mike’s wheelhouse is 3-5, so that was a no-brainer.”
Sorensen, who called his position at Brook Park School his “forever job,” said he welcomes the addition of the new K-2 administrator and that him taking over grades three through five “makes perfect sense.”
“I think it’s going to be really good for the building given how much we’ve grown the last couple of years,” Sorensen said. “Going to full-day kindergarten is going to be a huge undertaking. There’s just so much going on.”
Sorensen agreed with Kuzniewski that bringing aboard someone who can work collaboratively would be key.
“It’s taken so long to create the positive culture, and we don’t want to become a split building,” Sorensen said. “We don’t want to lose that one-building feel.”
Kuzniewski said that the salary range for the new position would be “locally competitive” but didn’t want to specify further. The district’s two current principals earn between $108,000 and $110,000, according to the administration compensation report posted on District 95’s website.