With all of the uncertainty surrounding the changing of the guard in Lyons-Brookfield School District 103, it was very good news last week when Kristopher Rivera stepped in – two months ahead of schedule – to take the reins as the new superintendent.
His willingness to immediately dive into the job when he really didn't have to and in the face of real political instability indicates that the previous school board made a good choice. Rivera looks like he really wants to take a visible, hands-on role in a district that desperately needs a firm hand at the tiller.
That's very good news.
We can only hope that the new board of education allows Rivera to steer the ship and gives him the tools he needs to do the job. Frankly, the jury is out, especially given the experience of 2015-17 as a guide.
Asked about Assistant Superintendent Kyle Hastings' role moving ahead, Rivera didn't have much to say. That's a concern from our perspective, because it doesn't indicate he's got control over who he picks as top administrators.
A prior school board hired the politically connected Hastings and then foisted him onto their successors by giving him a long-term contract. For the past two years, the school board kept Hastings' profile as low as possible by limiting the number of days he could work.
We're guessing that's going to change. If it does, we hope Rivera makes Hastings earn his princely keep of more than $1,000 per day.
We already know that the District 103 school board planned to rehire as its legal counsel the firm of Odelson & Sterk, which also is the law firm for the village of Lyons. That action item appeared on the school board's May 14 meeting agenda.
Whether the school board is going to try to get other members of the band back together isn't clear, but it wouldn't be surprising. If it does so while bypassing Rivera, then our guess is he'll be a short-timer in District 103, because no self-respecting superintendent is going to have his top staffing decision dictated by outside political influence.
But that's the way it worked for two years from 2015 to 2017, and unless there's been some real change of heart – which we're not seeing – we expect it to be that way again.
In the meantime, we wish the absolutely best of luck and success to Rivera in unifying the board, inspiring other administrators and teachers and helping the students in District 103 obtain the best possible education.
Those students and their future success as productive, active and engaged citizens is, after all, the actual point of all this.