Superintendent Search Narrowed to Three Finalists
The Board conducted interviews on Nov. 16 and 18 with seven candidates that were presented by the search firm School Exec Connect. Three finalist candidates will be interviewed on Dec. 1 and Dec. 4.
The board selected three stakeholder teams to participate in one-hour panel interviews with each of the finalists. A staff team, administrative team and parent team will provide feedback to the board on how each candidate compares to the District 28 Superintendent Candidate Profile, which was created from community engagement in October. The search process is confidential in order to ensure the best candidates apply.
The board will conduct the final interviews and plan to name a new superintendent in December. Dr. Larry Hewitt retires June 30, with the new superintendent starting July 1.
Community Input Shapes Superintendent Profile
The next superintendent to lead District 28 should be student-centered, innovative, confident, resilient and have a deep knowledge of best practices in teaching and learning. The next leader should communicate decisions with clarity, reason and empathy after considering input from all stakeholders. And, the next leader should be genuine, caring, personable and skilled at building trust and maintaining the positive climate and culture of the district.
These are some of the top traits in the superintendent’s profile presented by the executive search firm School Exec Connect following a month of community engagement. The profile was developed after the Board of Education invited more than 2,700 teachers, support staff, administration, parents, community members and students to participate in focus groups and/or an online survey about the district’s strengths and challenges, priorities and characteristics of a new superintendent. There were 458 responses to the survey and 98 people who participated in focus groups.
“There was a real consistency in what people said,” commented School Exec Connect Consultant Linda Yonke. “In particular, of the many searches I have been involved in, I have never seen parents and teachers so in sync in terms of strengths, challenges and qualities they would like to see in a superintendent.”
The first and foremost strength (of the district) noted was the teaching and administrative staff. “Parents said it feels like a family and they like being part of the district. Another strength is the value the community places on education. The teacher retention rate is very good and there is a stable administrative staff.”
Respondents want the superintendent to be able to balance academic goals with social-emotional learning. A careful transition plan is important and the new superintendent should be prepared to collaborate and respond to all constituencies, she said.
The firm had received 32 applications for the position and will continue to accept applications through Oct. 31. The New Superintendent Profile will be used to screen candidates and present a slate of about 10 candidates for the board to review in a closed session on November 9. The Community Engagement Report and the superintendent search timeline is posted on the district’s superintendent search webpage. The board hopes to hire a new superintendent before the end of 2021.
Board President Tracy Katz Muhl said of the search process, "For 15 years Dr. Hewitt has served the community and children of Northbrook 28 with integrity, compassion and dedication. As a board, we are striving to hire a new superintendent who will uphold our values and expectations of continuous improvement for many years to come."
Superintendent Search Timeline
Aug. 24 - BOE/Consultant Planning Meeting
Sept. 7 - Oct. 31 - Consultants advertise the position, recruit candidates, accept and screen applications
Sept. 21 - Oct. 12 - Consultants facilitate community engagement:
- Conduct interviews or Focus Groups with Board members; conduct multiple focus groups for staff, parents, community, administration, and teachers.
- Publish online survey for all staff and community members (available online September 20-October 12)
Oct. 26 - Consultants present New Superintendent Profile to the Board at their regular board meeting, beginning at 7 p.m.
Oct. 27 - Nov. 8 - Consultants interview selected applicants
Nov. 9 - Special Board Meeting for consultants to present a slate of 5-7 candidates to the Board in closed session
Nov. 16 & 18 - Special Board Meeting for the Board to conduct initial interviews of a slate of candidates
Dec. 1 & 4 - Special Board Meetings Board conducts second interviews of three finalists; stakeholder interviews take place
Dec. 14 - Board takes formal action on new superintendent's contract at its regular meeting.
Board hires School Exec Connect to Assist in Superintendent SearchThe Board of Education is seeking broad input from the staff and the community as it conducts a search for a new superintendent to replace Dr. Larry Hewitt when he retires at the end of the school year.The Board is working with the educational search firm School Exec Connect to assist in the superintendent search process. Consultants Dr. Linda Yonke, a retired superintendent from New Trier High School who lives in Northbrook, and Dr. Devon Horton, superintendent of Evanston/Skokie District 65, will lead the search and community engagement process.The firm is seeking feedback on the district’s strengths and challenges, as well as ideal characteristics of the next superintendent. Parents, staff, and the community will be invited to participate in an online survey.Findings from the survey, open forums and focus group conversations will be used to develop the New Superintendent Profile that will be presented to the board at its Oct. 26 regular meeting.After the profile is reviewed and approved, School Exec Connect will develop a slate of up to seven candidates for the board to interview in closed session. The board’s most important consideration is securing the strongest candidate pool and ultimately hiring the right person who will lead the district with the vision and support the district's exceptional team of teachers and staff. To ensure the deepest candidate pool, the Board will conduct confidential interviews. Stakeholder interviews will be included to provide feedback to the board on the finalists.