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109 Looks To Hire Superintendent for 3 Years

Some parents seek interim approach. Search firms said Deerfield is an attractive location for many superintendent candidates.

Three search firms bidding on the opportunity to help find a superintendent to replace got a glimpse of the Board of Education and community they will serve if selected at Monday’s Board meeting.

The firms found a group ready to get to work and a number of parents who want a delay until after the April election when four of the Board’s seven seats will be before the voters.

All of the firms agreed that the board should begin looking for a superintendent now, rather than hiring an interim until after the electorate has its say. 

“We think that if you wait until the board is seated, you're going to miss the really high season of candidates,” School Exec Connect President Linda Hanson, a former Township High School District 113 superintendent, said. “We don't think that an interim is in your best interest. That becomes a year where you’re not really doing your strategic goals.” 

Public comment after the presentations turned heated. The board intends to hire a superintendent for a three-year contract, but . 

“You as a body do not have the credibility within the community to name a superintendent,” Barry Grossman said. “To talk to these headhunting firms and not let them know the situation in the community is disingenuous to them. Thinking outside the box is what you need to do right now. Maybe you'll turn the community around. There's going to be new board members, and the board will regain its credibility.”

Parents Disagree As Well

Another parent, Patricia Reese, spoke out in favor of hiring a superintendent for a full contract now. 

“I think it's in our best interest to hire the best person possible for the three-year contract,” Reese said. “Any candidate coming in here will do his or her homework. As a concerned parent as well, I don't think we're going to get the best candidate for hiring for a year. People want commitment.” 

Jodi Shapira has been gathering signatures for a petition to delay the replacement and said she would deliver it at the next meeting. Board members got into back and forth discussions with the parents where they argued for pursuing the search now. 

“I really feel that this is a big opportunity and a huge necessity to get the absolute best candidate for our community ASAP,” Board member Ron Worth said. “To put things off for an entire year, if there are any issues in the District they're not going to be solved.” 

Board Member Debbie Muller agreed, though she said she might listen to a petition if it had thousands of signatures. 

“I was elected to do this job for four years,” she said. “It's my responsibility as an elected member of this Board to do the best I can to find the best person to fit the job. I'm not going to sit in this chair and not do my job for the next year.”

Board To Do Further Research on Firms

The board will check the references and do further research into the three firms before the August 20 meeting.

While the Board expressed concern about Illinois’ pension system and the upcoming April election, all three firms assured the members they would still be able to provide excellent candidates. 

“If you look at the North Shore and your reputation as a school district, you're a very desirable school district,” Hank Gmitro, president of Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, said. “As I travel around the country and do searches in many states Illinois is a much more attractive educational environment than 70 or 80 percent of states.” 

The firms each received 45 minutes to present their qualifications and field questions from the Board. Rosemont-based Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates has the most national reach and specializes in screening for leadership traits. 

Libertyville-based B.W.P. & Associates said its greatest strength is customizing its interview and search process the school district’s needs. It primarily has contacts in Illinois and said about half of its candidates typically come from recruiting the firm’s connections, with the other being open applicants.

B.W.P. President Mark Friedman founded a superintendent mentorship program in Lake County, and their contract includes post-hiring mentoring.

One Firm Offers Ongoing Support

“Even if you bring in an experienced person, it's someone who will be new to the District, new to the area,” Friedman said. “We want both the superintendent and the Board to know there's someone behind them. We love doing that.” 

Hanson’s firm handled the District’s superintendent search nine years ago. The firm specializes in school districts with high performing students and very involved communities, places where faculty searches are often the most contentious.

To deal with that, they said they would make the process as open as possible, holding community meetings and having District residents participate in the search.

Some residents were opposed to the hiring of School Exec Connect, saying they did not do a good job attracting an experienced candidate in the Caruso principal search and that they would prefer a firm with greater reach. “If I was a voting person, that would probably be my least choice,” Shapira said.

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Concerned Taxpayer July 18, 2012 at 07:13 PM
As a teacher in the district... It is amazing to me how much money this board and superintendent continue to waste!... They have created so many positions that have never been needed before... costing the district millions of dollars each year in salaries... the communications position, the coaching positions, numerous admin positions and admin assistants... Since they got the tax referendum passed they have squandered millions of dollars... paying for administrators to get doctorate degrees, giving administrators gas cards, providing them with a vehicle, paying for 100% of their insurance coverage... Someone needs to compare the number of paid certified teachers that are currently in the district compared to 5 or 10 years ago... All of this spending and at the same time cutting special ed services and increasing class sizes... Dictating from the top-down... getting rid of admin & teachers who didn't/don't fall in line with their philosphy...
D'skidoc July 19, 2012 at 01:48 AM
The story is about choosing a NEW administrative team. Deerfield is a highly desirable place to be involved in publc education. The salary offered will be competitive. What the district needs is a new super who looks at the current communication issues between parents, teachers, admin, and the board as a challenge and is willing to do a lot of fence mending as well as community team building in a real and substantive way. Bad-mouthing the current and past admin and board will do nothing but further poison the water when what is needed is some good oversight of an open process with a positive result in mind. This can be the first step towards healing between the aggrieved parties, and a better education for our children as a result.
barry July 19, 2012 at 02:16 PM
D'skidoc.....what you propose is not profound in any way, shape or form. Those qualifications are ONLY found in top tier candidates and certainly were not a consideration at all during the selection process that chose Goir. And now you propose (I think) to allow Ellen London to choose again? For those of us here in District 109 that haven't left the planet, it is understood common sense and logic being the prevailing attributes a top tier candidate is hoped to posses will take a pass under prevailing circumstances, i.e working for Ellen London and the instant baggage that alone brings to the table. You are expecting a bright, educated worldly person to ignore that? And if a search firm paints a different reality for that candidate, the liability factor for that firm is another story. Deerfield WAS a highly desirable district for a candidate to consider.....but that ship, for now, sailed away when London chose her compadre Goir. The board should choose an interim....if it works out, the NEW board should give that person a longer contract and keep em'! But given the dismal failure of personel choices and musical chairs so far, let's shorten the impact of yet another undesirable selection...by the same people. Someone close to several board members disclosed the removed former principle currently shuffled into the "human resource director" slot is going to be attempted to be awarded Goir's superintendent position. That is frightening.
Curious Resident July 19, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Barry....you once again make some great points. I too feel that what this current board has done, it should be resolved. I love the fact that the petition is going strong! If we do not have confidence in our board or administration then the petition is the best thinig to do. D'skidoc...if there is no trust in a board or administration between parents and faculty, there is a huge problem. The board and administration have time and time again provided a huge dog and pony show to all of us, making us believe that they will actually be listening to us. They aren't which is why I did contact and will contact again for the next board meeting the television stations. This is all about our children not about what they decide to show us! A fabulous candidate would be wonderful but with all the broken pieces either interim or waiting for the new board placed is a way better option to mend the fences.
Curious Resident July 19, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Oh and if Mr. Fisher becomes the new superintendent I will promise there would be more uproar by that instead of him being transferred from the principal to human resource position. At least there he has no chance of being involved with families or children! It may be an absolutely perfect position until contract negotiations come around again.
D'skidoc July 19, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Not profound...but at some point you need to trust that a search firm will do its best for the district that pays for a search. That's why you hire professionals. You can second guess the whys and wherefores of Dr. Goier's hiring till you turn blue, but I feel that at this juncture, the best interest of the district ought to trump all of the name calling and finger pointing. How many degrees of separation form Ellen London and Dr. Goier would be satisfactory? You might have to go to China (hyperbole noted) to find highly qualified school administrators who don't have some degree of relatedness to the current folks. Ok, maybe only to California or Maine. My point is that healing cannot occur with the persistent sniping in hindsight. Time to move forward and find people who can work to solve these problems, rather than spending any more time and effort assigning blame. I also feel the need to point out that those who serve on school boards generally do so out of a desire to support public education and enter into such service with good intent. I'm sure each of them has done the best they thought they could do at the time, and to continue to paint board members as bad folks undermines the whole goal of having qualified individuals give of their time and effort voluntarily to serve on these boards. You may not like their opinions or decisions, or the results, but don't attack their integrity just because you're unhappy with the current situation.
barry July 19, 2012 at 04:07 PM
D'askidoc....you continue to make my point. But somehow I dont think you know it. So please....go for the last word.
John Russillo July 19, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Nobody is painting board members as "bad folks", simply as bad at their job. You are brining up alot of irrelevant issues. The only issue is the ability of this board to select a suitable Superintendent. Those of us who signed the petition feel that they are not able. That's it. It's very simple.
D'skidoc July 19, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Barry, it's true we actually agree. What bothers me is the tone, not the message, and I don't think that is irrelevant. btw I am not a resident of d109 but I have an interest in what happens there. I am apparently more of an optimist, but I do think an optimistic tone (i.e. one that suggests that the speaker has confidence that a better outcome can be achieved) is more effective in getting to that better outcome than is a tone of negativity. I know this may be a bit of semantic nit-picking, but to say someone who acted in a volunteer position with no specific credentials did a bad job, rather than say that a decision, made in good faith, turned out badly makes some difference to me.
John Russillo July 19, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Attend a few board meetings and assess the Board's tone, then get back to us. We've been dealing with that TONE for years.
MSB July 19, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Just out of curiosity, D'skidoc, you mentioned that you did not live in our district but have interest in the outcome of the selection. So are you one the many preferred consultants hired by our superintendent since she appears to not have brought any skill or knowledge to her position and has hired out most of her responsibilities -- all with board approval? Are you from one of the law firms hired to defend the district in its discrimination against providing a fair and equal education to its students? Are you one of the many unaccountable coaches who have no direct contact with any students -- who we haven’t figured out what they exactly do? Or are you one of the unapproachable administrative staff or one of their administrative assistants who only manage up to the board? Because of previous and continued poor decisions and selections by this board, our district continues to waste taxpayer money on outside consultants to the tune of $340,000 (since 2008). Our board doesn’t even blink an eye at spending $10,000 a pop to hiring search agencies for principal positions only to bypass their recommendations and parental input and end up hiring from within. So yeah, we have a valid concern.
D'skidoc July 20, 2012 at 02:08 AM
I'm not faulting anyone for their genuine concerns, just noting that if you don't like that TONE from board members, then maybe it would be better not to take that tone either. Just sayin'...I get why there is so much distrust. I just wonder who is going for the olive branch and who is reaching for their shiv. I admit, I'm the antithesis of confrontation and prefer all things be worked out with far less emotion and more thoughtful problem solving. Sometimes public activism is necessary and proper, but character assault and hyperbole may bring problems the attention they deserve, but generally stop way short of promoting solutions. I think you have the Board's attention, now is the time to tone down the rhetoric and work to keep the process on the right track, that is to get the BEST (genuine, honest, human) administrative team possible in place to begin the healing. I don't have an opinion regarding a 3 year term vs. an interim position because I don't have children in 109 but there are valid arguments on both sides, leaving bad feelings aside. As for my identity; My kids attend DHS so it is in the best interest of the high school community and all of its students that the majority feeder district continue preparing students as well as it has in the past. I am also confident that if the HS sees any changes in the preparedness of students from any particular school or district that there will be communication to have those issues addressed. No personal axe to grind.
John Russillo July 20, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Yes, there is definitely a time for working together and healing and olive branches. Unfortunately, this ain't one of those times.
barry July 20, 2012 at 03:53 AM
Oh my, oh my, oh my D'skidoc....Children are DHS students, but never answered if you have a monetary interest of any kind with this district 109 regime. Its easy to be a calm and back seat drive and treat this like bush league beurocrats when its not your children, your neighbor's children or children of friends. After the fact to "ponder", rationalize, disect, internalize, project, and any other catch phrase you may want to inject to make yourself sound like an opposing voice of reason are all well and good when you have no valid excuse for continued bad behavior of your colleagues. When individuals have failed their responsibilities to our community's children by being divisive and disingenuous do you actually expect sympathy, empathy and pity when this parent fails to feel their pain, as they are outed and called to task? Have you ever heard the phrase "bubble"? Because you're In one. What a world it would be to do the job this administration and board has done and everyone feels sorry for them because they were found out.... so we choose our words and descriptions to describe their performance so as to not offend the perpetrators and be sensitive to their feelings. Wow. .....ok. Sorry if your bubble is burst.
Curious Resident July 20, 2012 at 11:56 AM
D'skidoc..while you have children at DHS let's go with they went through DPS 109. Well educated and prepared for high school...with all the illegal and truly I mean illegal changes that the board agreed to under Dr. Goier, is why as citizens/parents we don't trust the board to make a better decision for a new superintendent. Researching more...when Dr. Goier left Green Oaks (her old school district) which if I remember correctly was smaller than this one...there was no love loss. She pulled the same sh*t there as she is and has done here. Let's think about this...HR director released from superintendent position in old district hired part time here, and retired again, principal at Caruso becoming HR director who knows why but I am sure it is because I heard he never left his office and really didn't know the children or want to know parents, special education coordinator at Caruso left...why because I promise you 90% or more of the special education issues and those placed into the contract came from her inability to work with staff members, parents or understanding any student with special needs, and finally the asst superintendent resigning Monday night effective immediately...no reason provided??? Well, to me as a resident it looks as if they have lost control. Ellen London is saying...to get a good super we need to do the search asap...well what about an asst super for curriculum???? All contracts start July 1st...guess we won't have one! Unless Mr. Fisher does it.
D'skidoc July 20, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Barry, here's where you go off my tracks. You attack me because of who you think I might be and what $ interest I might have. Entirely wrong on both counts. I guess you aren't altruistic enough to believe people can do or say things without a personal axe to grind. These ARE children of friends, colleagues and relatives, as well as friends of my children. I have zero financial interest except I do feel my property values are affected by the perception of the educational institutions in the area. I don't live in a bubble, just outside yours looking in. Right now d109 is not looking like a desireable place to put down roots (from an educational perspective). That is not good for the community. That is my issue. I agree with you on a lot of this, but the loaded language, and particularly the attacks based on false assumptions don't help your credibility. I believe the word is diplomacy. The abliity to tell someone to go to hell and have them look forward to the trip without being offended is a tough skill that few (myself included) can master. And finally, I'm not suggesting you need be sympathetic towards anyone, just more civil. Language like "perpetrator", for instance, is loaded and doesn't add anything to the discussion. I really just want a better outcome and a quick end to the rancor.
D'skidoc July 20, 2012 at 01:26 PM
CR: Another false assumption. My kids: a) came from d112 b) came from another area of the north shore c) went to Holy Cross or St. Marys d) were home schooled thru 8th grade e) came from d106 f) came from out of state g) none of the above h) came from Solomon Schecter or some other private school. Sorry, I couldn't resist.. Really, I don't know the particulars about Dr. Goier's hiring and/or performance, nor is that important now. Getting a great new super to lead this district is the MOST important thing now because these problems are only solved from the top down, and school board or no, the superintendant is the one who sets the tone and can help create an improved culture in d109. How you folks get there is important too. A new administrator needs confidence that they will be working with the community to improve the schools, not fighting the battles of the prior administration and its baggage. Fresh start time! To clarify; I have never opined on any disputes on factual issues regarding the current administration. Heck, they may be even worse that you all say. I will however defend the motives of school board members in general because I know that people take on that position in good faith, and often without experience, so to malign them for trying to do good is, in my opinion, unfair.
John Russillo July 20, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Fresh start time is exactly right. A fresh Board chosing a fresh Superintendent. We are losing absolutely nothing by waiting a year. There are good candidates out there now and there will be good candidates out there in a year. The only thing of importance is the people who are making the final decision. The parents of this community don't want it to be this 7. I'm not sure why you're not understaning this, doc, maybe because you have friends on the Board. If so, you may want to advise them to listen to the people of their district if you want a quick end to the rancor. Otherwise, this is going to last awhile.
MSB July 20, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Wow D’skidoc, you crossed the line of decency with your language and are only escalating the situation causing more pain and anguish. When and where did Barry tell you to go to h*ll? Please be considerate before you diminish our concerns. It is not a joke. You have not lived through the pain and aggravation that we have as parents who have children that had their educational services denied, cut or reduced. And then after going through all levels of the administration (if and when they chose to reply) only to find out the board is 100% supportive of their actions because they are so far removed from their responsibilities. These services were not cut because of lack of funds; in fact, the board took $2 million out the education fund to support their pet building projects. I’ve written the board several times asking them to separate themselves from the administration and do what is right; but as with the administration, they NEVER once replied. When 30 – 40 families brought their personal stories to the board meetings, they were publicly mocked by the board with their uninterested appearance and tone. And to top it off, they congratulate her for the last 7 years of “service”. And now you are asking us to hold hands and sing “kumbya.” This board needs to go. They failed our children and our community.
MSB July 20, 2012 at 02:00 PM
When any child is wronged by the system, it is important for the entire community to come together and remedy the situation because someday that child could by yours. One day you may need help. We currently have a major university recovering from a system that turned its back on the students.
D'skidoc July 20, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Just the (colloquial) definition of diplomacy...All of you are too sensitive to be objective. I was talking from the perspective of just being able to stay tactful while being truthful. I wasn't talking to anybody, and that is making my point again. You are defending either Barry or me from an attack that didn't exist. btw Where does it suggest I am "diminishing your concerns"? I'm on your side of the practical argument. NEED NEW SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION!!! I'm just saying that bashing the current admininstration and board won't get you better ones. Nastiness towards those leaving doesn't always help attract the best candidates (either board or admin). You can thank someone for their service while showing them the door nicely. Time to look forward, and you can't wait for an entirely new board to be seated to get going on fixing the current problems either. Final word from me... I hope...on this subject. ACTIVISM-GOOD...NASTYvism-BAD.
D'skidoc July 20, 2012 at 02:27 PM
And you are right...for me it's not personal, so I can afford to be more dispassionate.
John Russillo July 20, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Yup, there's nothing more personal that your child's education.
Lennie Jarratt July 20, 2012 at 05:07 PM
The one line that sticks out in the article: "All of the firms agreed that the board should begin looking for a superintendent now, rather than hiring an interim until after the electorate has its say." Why bother getting the opinion of the electorate/taxpayers who pay the salary? LOL, the arrogance of school districts is amazing with their contempt for the people of the district.
Lennie Jarratt July 20, 2012 at 05:08 PM
BTW, many of the firms that do Superintendent searches are run by former Superintendents.
John Russillo July 20, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Yeah, amazing that the firms would say that, eh? Why don't you just ask them "would you like to get paid now or later?"
D'skidoc July 20, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Exactly my point regarding finding qualified people who aren't in some way related to the current folks. It's a fairly small club here in the Chicago metro area. That being said, if 3/3 professional firms agree, there might be something to the recommendation. That's advice, not binding, and taken with the context of the sources, but if you search again in a year, doesn't that double the cost for searches. Not in the search firms' best interests to advise a 3 year search, so maybe it's just their best advice. Also note that the education in the Chicago suburbs is of an overall very high quality compared to most of the rest of the country, so you have to go to some very specific places outside our neighborhood to find a high density of good candidates. I don't envy the people who take on this task, because they are going to be under a microscope and will be playing to a tough crowd, but I am on the side of finding the best possible candidates from where-ever.
Curious Resident July 21, 2012 at 12:23 PM
D'skidoc....you don't have to do a search for an interm superintendent using a search firm. Most times an interm is someone has worked as a superintendent in the past or is a former administrator within the district. An interm is usually someone who is retired and willing to step in to work while the district and board move to find someone to take over the job. I personally would rather at this time have an interm considering that at this point we now have a new HR director, no asst superintendent of curriculum and learning, and more new administration coming in. Truly, I believe we need someone that has worked in this district prior to Goier who is willing to transition this district back to what it used to be and definitely not hired by the current board. Whether you are from D109 or not please attend a board meeting...the board and district stated at one point that the teachers agreed to a four year contract, not true...it was a bonus last year no retroactive pay and the year didn't count for the teachers within the district. They bring in people as a dog and pony show like they did for the principal at Caruso...a majority of us wanted a different person through one of the search firms...guess what we didn't get that person, we got the one that Goier wanted. Yes, you are right name calling whatever is not good. However, the board is still not listening and really something needs to change. Thank G-d for us parents and residents for standing up for real change!
D'skidoc July 21, 2012 at 01:05 PM
CR: I just wonder how big a pool of top quality people are our there who are willing to take an interim position. You need much more than a placeholder. Do you have some candidiates in mind when you say "we need someone that has workdd in this district prior to Goier"? That qualification sure narrows the field. Also, (just curious myself) how many of the current board members were serving when Dr. Goier was hired? What about those elected more recently? I know y'all feel that the board is in need of wholesale change, but there will still be 3 (correct me if I'm wrong) filling out their tenure, unless of course there are resignations either before or after the election. Then there is the problem of the learning curve. Unless you elect some individuals who have served in the past, there is quite a bit of arcane stuff you encounter once elected, and still have the problem of the administration generally setting agendas and often really running the show because they have the specific knowledge. Board members end up relying heavily on admin to know all those arcane rules and regs. Gets quite circular when you want to get something done, especially from outside the little club. Now I'm being too pessimistic. You folks have a tough row to hoe, but there seem to be enough passionate and invested individuals to keep it up unitl its right. Good Luck!
Curious Resident August 04, 2012 at 03:09 AM
Just curious...two more adminstrators have resigned effectively immediately in the DPS 109 district...this means at this time...at the higher administrative level our children have a board that we don't trust, administator offices empty at the district level along with a superintendent that is not favored or trusted either. At the district office, our students will be starting a school year in approximately two weeks with a superintendent, no asst superintendent in curriculum and instruction (HUGE PROBLEM IN MY BOOK ESPECIALLY WITH THE ILLEGAL DECISIONS THAT HAVE HAPPENED), a human resource director that was transferred from his principal job because he wasn't favored that much from what I heard, a special education director that personally I know nothing about, and an asst superintendent in business operations! There still is a technology coordinator, but who knows what this person does and let's just assume that that person is leaving too! We now have no Gifted Education Coordinator or another Special Education Coordinator that looked after the lower functioning student programs....GREAT JOB GOIER....(insert sarcasm) you are leaving at the end of this school year and as parents or community members are district is broken! Please sign that petition and don't let this board hire any more administrators!!!!! To D'skidoc...guess what that pool is getting smaller as a lot of upper administrators are leaving and leaving weeks before the school year is to begin.

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