In 1986, Komarek School District 94 hired a south suburban principal named Robert Madonia to be its superintendent. He stayed at Komarek for 16 years before moving on in 2002 to become the superintendent of fast-growing Frankfort School District 157C. 

This fall, Madonia will return to Komarek to lead a strategic planning process to give Komarek a new five-year strategic plan. Since retiring as superintendent in 2013, Madonia has developed a strategic planning business and has helped many school districts, including Riverside Elementary School District 96, develop strategic plans.

To show his appreciation for Komarek giving him a chance to become a superintendent and his regard for the community, Madonia is not charging Komarek for his services this fall, saving the district between $10,000 and $15,000.

“I’m giving back and donating my services to the district without cost,” Madonia told the Landmark. “That’s kind of my thank you for the wonderful place it is and for all they’ve done for me over the years.”

Komarek has always held a special place in Madonia’s heart. He worked there longer than any other place in his long career and is looking forward to seeing some familiar faces and people he hired.  

“I thoroughly enjoyed working at Komarek,” Madonia said. “It’s a family environment where students are put first, so returning home to do this will be wonderful.”

This summer the finishing touches are being put on the new gym and new parking lot, capping a multi-year project that has transformed Komarek School. What once was an obsolete building is new again. The school’s east wing was torn down and a large new section was added to the west wing, whose original building was totally renovated and transformed. 

With the physical transformation of Komarek just about complete, Superintendent Todd Fitzgerald and the school board decided to think of the future.

“We felt like now would be the right time to take on a strategic plan and start to focus on what should be our priorities for Komarek moving forward,” Fitzgerald said.

Starting in September, Madonia will begin meeting with administrators and staff to determine how Komarek can improve and what needs to be focused on. Madonia, who estimates that he has written from 75 to 100 strategic plans for a wide range of school districts in the Chicago area, will develop an online survey to gather input from parents and community members. 

This fall, a strategic planning committee will be created with representation from stakeholders and different sectors of the community. The committee could be composed of as many as 30 to 50 people.

“It will really depend how much interest we get from our community,” Fitzgerald said. 

Information about how to apply for a spot on the strategic planning committee will soon be posted on the Komarek website at 

The heavy lifting will be done on Dec. 8 and 9, when the committee will meet for approximately seven hours to hash out what goals the district should focus on for the next five years.

“The creation of the 2024-2029 strategic plan provides an opportunity to further align the work at the school to achieve ambitious goals for the future and provide a basis to implement, measure, and communicate key indicators of success,” Fitzgerald wrote in a press release announcing the beginning of the strategic planning process.

Madonia says that his process is time tested. He hopes to involve people from all parts of the Komarek community.

“It’s not just a five-year planning tool, but it’s a phenomenal public relations endeavor,” Madonia said. “It brings the community in together with the district as a team.”