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Our view: Selection of new superintendent should be carefully made

Published: Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 11:02 p.m. CST

Kaneland School District 302 is in need of a new superintendent.

Last week, District 302 publicly announced that Jeff Schuler intended to resign as leader of the district, a post he has held for four years.

Schuler’s resignation as superintendent of Kaneland schools will become effective the first week of September. He then will go on to become the superintendent of Wheaton Warrenville School District 200.

Despite the fact that the school year will start soon, the search for a new District 302 superintendent should not be rushed, nor should the preparation of any potential contractual paperwork related to the new hire.

By many accounts, Schuler had a positive impact on Kaneland schools. A statement from the district regarding Schuler’s resignation noted that he oversaw four years of balanced budgets, increases in student achievement and an expansive use of technology.

The new superintendent should bring a host of strengths to the table. He or she should have an extensive education background and leadership qualities that match what the school board seeks. In addition, the person ideally would have some familiarity with the Kaneland region, its challenges and its strengths.

Sure, the timing of losing Schuler is not great. But rushing such an important hire could lead to negative consequences. The school board should take its time with its candidate search, and perhaps should consider bringing on an interim superintendent in the meantime.

On top of that – as several school board members noted at a meeting Aug. 4 – the district should tread carefully when it comes to the possibility of offering any potential candidate a long-term contract. Schuler had signed a contract extension that went through the 2015-16 school year. His imminent departure for District 200 means his contract will go unfulfilled.

As board member Tony Valente pointed out during the recent meeting: “The board made a commitment that was not returned,” adding that “in the future, we should not give long-term contracts” or make sure such contracts are honored.

The District 302 board has an important choice to make in selecting its new superintendent. We wish board members the best of luck in conducting their search for a new leader.

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