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Huntley School District 158 hiring search firm to find next superintendent

Huntley School District 158 Superintendent John Burkey is resigning from his position, effective Jan. 31, to take a new job as executive director of the Large Unit District Association.
Huntley School District 158 Superintendent John Burkey is resigning from his position, effective Jan. 31, to take a new job as executive director of the Large Unit District Association.

HUNTLEY – The Huntley School District 158 Board is looking to hire a search firm to help find the district’s next superintendent.

Superintendent John Burkey is resigning from his position, effective Jan. 31, to take a new job as executive director of the Large Unit District Association.

The board is expected to name an interim superintendent for the remainder of the 2017-18 school year.

The search firm will aid the district in identifying a full-time superintendent for the 2018-19 school year and beyond.

Board members interviewed four different search firms at their Dec. 14 meeting: Illinois Association of School Boards, ECRA Group, BWP & Associates and School Exec Connect.

BWP & Associates would consist of a three-person team including President Mark Friedman, who conducted the search that found Burkey.

“I think that search worked out very well, and he knows a lot about the district,” associate Joseph Porto said. “As president of BWP, it shows he believes your sign out there that it is a ‘destination district,’ and we’d love to get your search.”

All firms spoke about screening candidates in advance, along with some saying they will conduct background checks and reference checks before choosing a slate of about five candidates for the board to interview.

Board member Anthony Quagliano said he thinks the search firm will be selected in the next few weeks. 

The cost of the search firm’s services will range from about $9,900 to $15,900, representatives said at the meeting.

All firms spoke about conducting surveys and in-person focus groups that connect with staff, teachers and the community to see what they’d like to see in the next superintendent.

Jill Hawk, retired superintendent of Community High School District 155, represents School Exec Connect.

“It matters to me personally that you get a great person,” Hawk said. “I’ve had kind of an odd seat to this district as a neighboring superintendent. ... it matters and is not just a job.”

Burkey will work for the Springfield-based Large Unit District Association, which supports the 53 largest unit school districts in Illinois with networking, professional development and advocacy.

Burke began as the District 158 superintendent in 2006. Since then, enrollment has grown from fewer than 7,000 to nearly 10,000, numerous construction and renovation projects were completed, and the district implemented Illinois’ largest 1:1 program initiative.

The board approved a new contract for Burkey in 2016 that ran through the 2021 school year. The contract paid Burkey $215,000 for the 2016-17 school year, with a 2.5 percent pay increase set in each subsequent year of the contract, according to previous Northwest Herald reporting.

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