D103 special ed chief out, but replacement might be in house

New Pre-K director has years of experience in special ed role

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By Bob Skolnik

Contributing Reporter

After little more than one year on the job, the special education director of Lyons-Brookfield School District 103 has resigned, but her replacement might already be working for the district.

Colleen Bergren, the district's director of student services, has resigned apparently to take a job back in Indiana. Bergren was hired by District 103 last year. 

She had worked with District 103 Superintendent Kristopher Rivera in the Hammond school district where she had been a middle school principal. Bergren could not be reached for comment.

Kim West, the district's new early childhood education director, has extensive experience in special education, having worked as the special education director for Will County School District 92 for the past 11 years. 

West was hired by District 103 this summer to replace Chris Newell, who founded the district's pre-kindergarten program 34 years ago and who had run it ever since.

"I have big shoes to fill," West said. "Chris Newell did an exemplary job with this program. She left it in great shape. As an educator I always want our programs to continue to get better for the success of all students."

West announced her intention to resign from District 92 in March. She told the Landmark that she resigned for personal reasons.

"I needed a change," West said.

West, who held the title of assistant superintendent for special education at District 92, made an annual salary of $143,112 last year. This year she is being paid $92,000 to run the District 103 pre-kindergarten program.

District 92 Superintendent Tim Arnold did not return multiple phone calls asking for comment.

West has worked in education for nearly 20 years. She started her career as a paraprofessional for a special education cooperative in Lockport. In 2002, she was hired to teach a self-contained fifth-grade classroom for students with emotional and behavioral disorders in Joliet. 

In 2004, she moved to Lockport High School to become the school's pre-vocational coordinator and rose to chairwoman of the special education department at Lockport High School before moving on to District 92 in 2009.

West was succeeded in District 92 by Nora Skentzos who had been the director of student services at Brookfield-LaGrange Park District 95. 

Skentzos had been a member of the District 92 school board until she resigned that position to take the job with the district. Skentzos told the Landmark that she did not why West resigned.

West received a bachelor's degree in social work from Lewis University and went on to earn a master's degree in special education from Lewis. She has also completed all the coursework necessary for a doctorate in educational leadership at Lewis.

Currently the pre-kindergarten program in District 103 is being conducted remotely. As soon as a district order for Chromebooks is delivered, every family in the program will be given one of the devices to use.

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