Chris Covino

The next superintendent of LaGrange-Brookfield School District 102, which also serves southwest Brookfield, will be someone who has spent his entire career at the high school level. 

On Feb. 23 the District 102 Board of Education voted unanimously to hire Chris Covino, who’s in his third year as the assistant superintendent for academics at Hinsdale High School District 86, to replace retiring Superintendent Kyle Schumacher this summer.

Covino, 46, began his career in 1998 as English teacher at Neuqua Valley High School, moved on after three years to become the language arts division chair at West Chicago High School, then was the assistant principal for curriculum and instruction at York High School before being named principal at Argo High School. He joined District 86 three years ago.

“We liked his experience,” said District 102 school board President Mike Melendez, a Brookfield resident. “Very process orientated type of leader, very good with data. When we interviewed him, it was clear he did this homework on the district.”

Covino received a three-year contract and will be paid $225,000 in his first year.

Melendez acknowledged Covino’s lack of experience at the elementary and junior high level.

“Obviously we were aware of that,” Melendez said. “High school is different than K through 8. On the flip side of that, he will also understand what it takes to succeed at the high school level and with his experience in evaluating and building curriculum, he can take what he understands about being successful at the high school level and help ensure that our curriculum is structured the demands that our kids are going to face when they get to LT.”

Melendez said the school board liked Covino’s strong background in curriculum, especially in language arts.

“Reading is critical in everything we do,” Melendez said. “He has familiarity with building curriculum.”

Covino noted that he has worked in a couple K-12 unit districts, in Elmhurst (York) and Indian Prairie (Neuqua Valley), so that he is not entirely unfamiliar with curriculum below the high school level.

“I do have a lot of experience working with elementary and middle school teachers on curriculum alignment, assessment development and just in general professional development planning around literacy work,” Covino told the Landmark. “So, I do feel that I’ve had a number of experiences that will provide a firm foundation for doing a lot of the K-8 work that is ahead.”

Covino grew up in southern California steeped in education. His father is a former English professor who is now a college president, and his mother is a pre-school teacher. 

When his father was hired as an English professor at University of Illinois at Chicago, Covino came along and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English education and English at UIC. 

He went on to earn a master’s degree in educational leadership from Benedictine University and a doctorate in educational leadership from Aurora University.

More than 50 people applied for the job. The school board interviewed seven candidates and then had second interviews, which included a meal at Capri restaurant in Burr Ridge, with each of the three finalists.

Melendez says Covino was the best choice to build on the advancements made under Schumacher’s leadership for the past eight years.

“Kyle is leaving us in a very good place, and we think that Chris is the right person to kind of take the baton and take off running with it,” Melendez said. “And the nice thing is that we have this transition period now. He’ll find ways to meet with Kyle. 

“Fortunately his current employer isn’t too far away, so being able to meet in the evening or after work hours to kind of talk and get to know the district before he starts is going to be a huge advantage for him and good for us as a district.”