Thomas Leahy, a consultant with the Illinois Association of School Boards, visited the Bond County Unit 2 School District Wednesday. The IASB is working with the Unit 2 School Board in the search for a new superintendent. Leahy spent the day visiting with various focus groups to gather input on the search process.
Wednesday night, he met with the community. The audience of 26 was made up of teachers, a school board member, and parents of students from throughout the district.
Leahy told WGEL about the purpose of the meeting Wednesday night was to give the community the chance to provide input on four topics:
1) What is unique to Bond County Unit 2
2) What are the strengths of the Unit 2 District
3) What concerns do the community have about the district
4) What are they looking for in another superintendent
For the question of qualities that are unique to Unit 2, common themes that were shared included a wide range of opportunities for students, academically and in extra-curricular activities; a wholesome, family feeling in the district; and dedication of teachers and staff. When asked about strengths of the district, answers included the commitment of faculty; enthusiasm of teachers; and the arts and ag programs. Statements shared regarding challenges and areas of concern in the district ranged from the college readiness of students and financial issues to long term vision and issues with the current school board. When asked about qualities to look for in a new superintendent, audience members said the candidate should have awareness of students with special needs; should be present at activities throughout the district, not just in Greenville; needs to stand up for district students; must have an understanding of finances; and should be concerned about the quality of education.
Two additional issues that were discussed during the meeting were the superintendent’s residence and timing of the hiring. Leahy said it is not uncommon for superintendents to live outside of their school district, but the search could mandate the superintendent live in district, could list it as a preference, or could leave the matter up to the candidate. Leahy cautioned if the issue was mandatory, several potential candidates would be disqualified immediately.
As for timing of the hiring, the current school board will have to decide if they will hire the superintendent, or if the matter will be left up to the new school board, which will be elected in early April. The new school board would be seated in late April. If that board is tasked with hiring the new superintendent, the process will be delayed, possibly until late May. Leahy said there are other options, including allowing school board candidates to join the current board in the search, but each option will have its own benefits and challenges.
The school board will meet Monday evening, February 2, to hear a report of Leahy’s findings.