By Bob Skolnik
Lyons-Brookfield Elementary School District 103 Superintendent Kristopher Rivera didn't have to look too far to find a new special education director after Colleen Bergren resigned at the start of the school year to take a job in Indiana.
He happened to have an experienced special education director on staff and, at their Sept. 23 meeting, the Board of Education voted unanimously to hire Kim West to be the new director of student services.
West was hired by District 103 this summer to direct the district's pre-kindergarten program, replacing longtime preschool director Chris Newell. But, West has extensive experience in the field of special education.
"I am very excited for the opportunity and being a part of D103 team," West said in an email. "I look forward to working with the entire staff to continue navigating the challenges presented by COVID-19 and the return to a normal learning environment."
Prior the joining District 103, West worked as the special education director for Will County School District 92 for the past 11 years. Before becoming special education director there, West worked in the special education department at Lockport High School for seven years, rising to become the chairwoman of the special education department.
"I think she's a good choice," said District 103 board member Marge Hubacek.
Rivera said that he will now begin looking for a new director of the preschool program.
West is getting a raise as she takes her new position. She will make an annual prorated salary of $115,000, compared to her salary of $92,000 as the pre-kindergarten director.
Last year, West made $143,112 as the assistant superintendent for special education at Will County District 92. West announced her resignation from her job in Will County last spring, months before she was hired by District 103.
New contract for aides
After working for more than a year without a contract teacher aides in Lyons School District 103. On Sept. 23 the District 103 Board of Education unanimously approved a new three-year contract for full time teacher aides that gives the aides flat 2.75 percent raises in each year of the contract. The contract, and the raises, are retroactive to July 1, 2019. The contract also guarantees that no aide will be paid less than $13 an hour, the current minimum wage in Cook County.
Last November the aides rejected a contract offer made by the district. The terms of that offer have never been revealed. The aides are represented by Local 73 of the Service Employees International Union. Nurses' aides in the district were fired over the summer and replaced by registered nurses in each of the district's schools.