Brookfield-LaGrange Park District 95’s school board has identified its next superintendent, and it didn’t have to go far to find him.
In February, the school board announced that Ryan Evans, who has been principal of S.E. Gross Middle School in Brookfield for the past nine years, will succeed Mark Kuzniewski.
“I appreciate that the school board gave the opportunity for consistency and the sees the value in growing their own superintendent and allowing me to work with them to implement the vision for the next decade,” Evans said.
The appointment comes after a four-month search process that vetted internal candidates only. Last October, the school board hired BWP and Associates to lead that process, which included a district-wide survey to get input from residents about what they wanted to see in the next superintendent and meetings with three focus groups.
Some 400 people completed the survey, said Kuzniewski, and the focus groups included staff and community members both with and without children attending school in the district.
“The primary themes that emerged from the survey and focus groups were a desire to keep our already outstanding school district moving forward in a manner consistent with current practice with a focus on future growth, a desire to train and/or hire the next leader who could do both the role of superintendent and chief business official and a leader who would embrace existing D95 traditions,” said school board President Katie Mulcrone in a press release announcing the decision.
Evans said he appreciated the vetting process, saying it was important for the school board to reach out to the wider community for input.
“They found [the community] was looking for stability and consistency, to take the things we’re doing here now and expanding them in the future,” Evans said. “I know that there was support out there … and it gives me heart that moving forward the things we look to do will also be supported by the community.”
Evans won’t take the reins right away. Instead, he’ll continue to serve as principal of S.E. Gross Middle School, with Kuzniewski remaining as superintendent, throughout the 2023-24 school year.
During that year, he’ll learn the ropes of the job, including that of being the school district’s business manager, a position the superintendent has always performed in District 95.
“Those larger tasks, like the budget, Ryan will start doing this year, and he’ll be looking over my shoulder,” Kuzniewski said.
During the 2024-25 school year, Evans will move into an interim deputy superintendent role, where he’ll begin to take on other top administrative duties. Kuzniewski will remain as superintendent that year as well, completing the two-year transition on June 30, 2025.
“That [second] year, a lot will be him doing the work as I look over his shoulder,” Kuzniewski said. “It’s a built-in mentoring program.”
Evans, a lifelong Brookfield resident who served two terms as an elected official on the Brookfield Village Board, has spent his entire career in education in District 95. A graduate of Nazareth Academy and Monmouth College, Evans was a student teacher at S.E. Gross before landing a teaching position at the school.
He was a classroom teacher for eight years before moving into the role of assistant principal for two years. Evans was promoted to principal of S.E. Gross Middle School in 2014.
The school board is expected to announce its process to find a replacement for Evans as S.E. Gross Middle School principal at its meeting this month. That process may very well be similar to the superintendent search, as S.E. Gross has an experienced assistant principal in Jeffrey Tumpane, who has served in that role since 2014, already in the building.
The new principal is expected to be in place for the 2024-25 school year.
“We’ve looked at a succession plan that can utilize the talent within the building,” Kuzniewski said. “Jeffrey Tumpane is an outstanding leader.”
While he still has a couple of years to complete a victory lap, Kuzniewski called his upcoming retirement after 16 years as District 95 superintendent and more than 30 years as an educator “bittersweet.”
“It’s sweet in that I’ll finalize a career in education, but there will be a lot of things that I’ll miss, like the administrative team here,” Kuzniewski said.
Kuzniewski, 53, built that administrative team and can look back on a number of accomplishments as superintendent, including getting the school district on sound financial footing, leaving a team capable of carrying on work seamlessly upon his departure and, perhaps most notably, presiding over a $35 million renovation and expansion of S.E. Gross and Brook Park schools and the introduction of full-day kindergarten.
“It’s really the perfect way to exit by helping to mentor the next leader,” Kuzniewski said. “I’m leaving the district in very capable hands, not only Ryan but the entire administrative team.”