Brian Ganan, the superintendent of Komarek School District 94 in North Riverside, announced last week that he will be leaving the one-school district on July 1 to take a new job as the superintendent of LaGrange Elementary School District 105, comprising four elementary schools and a middle school that serves students in Countryside, Hogkins and the southern portion of LaGrange.
Ganan told the Landmark that it was a difficult decision to leave Komarek after nearly five years at the helm – and in the middle of a referendum campaign to fund a host of school improvements.
“I absolutely love Komarek and the community,” Ganan said. “It’s just a new opportunity to go to another great district. It’s a little bigger.”
Ganan will not be officially hired at LaGrange District 105 until their school board meets on Feb. 24, but last week Ganan informed the Komarek school board and parents that he would be leaving after LaGrange District 105 informed parents that Ganan would be hired.
“It’s a little unorthodox,” Ganan said. “The timing is unique.”
Ganan said that he didn’t want to wait for his contract to be officially approved by the LaGrange 105 school board to tell the Komarek board he would be leaving, because he wanted to allow the Komarek board to move as quickly as possible to start a superintendent search.
This is the prime superintendent hiring season. The Komarek school board scheduled a special meeting for Feb. 18 to hire BWP & Associates as its search firm to find a new leader.
District 94 school board President Christopher Waas did not immediately respond to a phone message left by the Landmark.
Ganan, who worked as a curriculum director for Riverside Elementary District 96 for two years before replacing longtime administrator Neil Pellicci at Komarek, said that he has long admired District 105.
“I love the diversity in 105,” Ganan said. “It’s just a fantastic district.”
Ganan declined to say what his new salary will be at District 105, since his contract has not been officially approved.
Ganan, 45, replaced the late Neil Pellicci, who had spent 28 years at Komarek, including the last 13 as superintendent, in 2015.
“The way that jobs work these days, people move on,” said Komarek parent Melissa Obrock, who has been active with parent groups advocating for the referendum. “We’ll never have another situation where we have an administrator for 30 years like we did with Mr. Pellicci. I just don’t think that that’s realistic. He gave us a lot of his heart over the last five years and did a lot of the good for the school. Made a lot of wonderful changes, set a fantastic foundation.”
During his time at Komarek School, Ganan led the efforts to update and modernize the curriculum and bring into closer alignment with Common Core. He pushed through a lot of change in a district which had been sort of sleepy and tradition bound.
Ganan said that he expects the improvements at Komarek that he began to continue without him.
“I feel like our staff is ready to continue on the road to continuous improvement,” he said.
Ganan said that his decision to move on has nothing to do with the bond referendum next month. The district seeks voter approval to borrow nearly $21 million to renovate and modernize Komarek. Last year, a $22 million referendum was badly defeated.
“This has nothing to do with the referendum,” Ganan said. “As a matter of fact, it made it even harder. It was just an opportunity that presented itself to me in a district that I’ve always admired. The referendum is not about me; it’s about our community.”
Obrock, who is the co-leader of the Vote Yes campaign, said that she didn’t think Ganan’s decision to move on next summer would greatly affect the referendum campaign.
“He’s been a fantastic superintendent,” Obrock said. “He will be very much missed by parents, students, teachers. We’re all very fond of him. But in terms of the referendum, I don’t think that changes anything.”