Unit 5 Board Hears From Search Firm On Superintendent Opening | WGLT

Unit 5 Board Hears From Search Firm On Superintendent Opening

Sep 12, 2019

Just two days after Unit 5 Superintendent Mark Daniel announced his intention to leave after the current school year, the district’s Board of Education is starting down the path toward find his successor.

The first step in the process likely will be hiring a search firm, and representatives from School Exec Connect outlined their proposal during a regular board meeting Wednesday at Parkside Junior High.

Board president Barry Hitchins said using the firm will make sure the search isn’t rushed.

“This is not something that we want to do in 15 minutes,” said Hitchins. “We need to make sure we are getting the perfect person for this position, because they are the one person who’s responsible for the daily operations for our district.”

Firm partner Diane Robertson and associate Jill Hawk included transparency and community engagement among the focal points of their detailed presentation.

“Community engagement is a hallmark of our search process,” said Robertson. “We like to engage the community and have as much input as possible. I would recommend that the Board consider not doing the search by themselves but to engage stakeholders in the process.”

Hitchins agreed that community input will be vital.

“We obviously don’t know everything that every person in this community is facing. So, we look forward to getting that feedback from everyone,” he said.

The board is expected to vote on a contract agreement with School Exec Direct at its next meeting on Sept. 25. If the contract is approved, the next step would be a 60-90 minute planning meeting to determine the scope of the search, likely on Oct. 2.

Hitchins said hiring the search firm does not diminish the board’s responsibility.

“We’re still accountable for the decision,” he said. “They will help with the process, but when all is said and done, we are the ones that are elected by the public and we are the ones that will need to make that decision.”

Parkside Junior High eighth grade reading and writing teacher Julie Nourie shows off her redesigned "model classroom" before Wednesday's Board of Education meeting.
Credit Joe Deacon / WGLT

Model Classrooms

Before the meeting, board members toured two redesigned “model classrooms” at Parkside. One science classroom and one reading and writing classroom now boast modernized designs featuring modular seating.

“As a teacher you’re able to move around the room a little bit better, to work with students one-on-one a little bit more,” said eighth grade reading teacher Julie Nourie. “It also allows flexible seating with students. You can group them differently and you can have different things happening at the same time within the classroom, which is always a benefit.”

Nourie said her classes range from 23 to 28 students and the room can accommodate up to 32. She said students have embraced the concept.

“They love it. They love the vibe that the colors give off,” she said. “They like being able to move a little bit better in the seats. They like being able to be in different groups to work together.”

High School Lacrosse Co-Op

Normal Community athletics director Nic Kearfott updated the board on the possibility of creating co-op boys and girls lacrosse programs with Normal West and Bloomington High schools.

The hope would be for the teams to begin playing this spring with Kingsley Junior High as the probable site for home games. Kearfott said potential upgrades to the Kingsley field and its irrigation system may be needed.

Numerous club lacrosse players and coaches were in the audience to show support for the plan, which would need approval from both the Unit 5 and District 87 boards as well as the IHSA. Kearfott hopes to place the matter on the agenda for the Sept. 25 meeting.

Transportation Concerns

Daniel and several board members voiced concerns about ongoing busing issues with First Student, namely frequent delays and the inability to contact anyone from the company. Unit Five Education Association President Lindsey Dickinson shared her frustrations during public comments.

“When our students are consistently losing 30-45 minutes every single day, their learning and growth suffer,” said Dickinson. “When routes have been planned and scheduled for months, it is unacceptable that students are forgotten or late.”

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