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Mokena SD 159 to seek help in superintendent search

Updated: January 8, 2013 6:24AM



The Mokena School District 159 Board plans to hire an outside firm to help search for a new superintendent.

How much it will pay for the search remains up in the air, and there was confusion at Wednesday night’s board meeting over whether the full board would have a say in narrowing the list of candidates.

Board President Patrick Markham asked the board to approve spending up to $15,000 to hire a search firm. He caught some of the board off guard by appointing members Joe Spalla and Jeff Regan to a two-man committee to research possible search firms, and to help identify “a team” of superintendent candidates.

Markham said he wanted the full board to get involved “when the candidates are ready to be interviewed” because he wanted “less cooks to spoil the pot.”

But Spalla said he would work with Regan to identify the best search firms and bring their recommendations to the board. Spalla said the community, administration, teachers and board members would become involved in the process at that point.

Markham said that was how he “meant to explain” the committee’s duties.

Board member Scott Peters had asked whether the board would be “fully engaged” after Spalla and Regan researched search firms, and board member Kathy Moore wasn’t in favor of leaving it to a committee to also weed out candidates.

“I believe it is the board’s No. 1 priority and responsibility to choose a superintendent,” Moore said. “That’s what we do. I have a problem with delegating that to two people when it is such an important job. I don’t have a problem with them gathering data and bringing it back to us.”

The board agreed to allow the committee to research search firms. Spalla said he expected to present the information at the Dec. 19 board meeting.

This will be an important hire for District 159, where administrative turnover has become the norm in recent years. In outgoing Supt. Steve Stein, the district is losing one of its staples: He was the Mokena Elementary School principal for 10 years before being named superintendent in August 2011.

Stein resigned, effective at the end of this school year, to become superintendent for Peotone Community School District 207U.

Spalla and Regan said hiring a search firm could cost anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000. Markham said it would be up to business manager John Troy to identify a funding source.

“I would like Mr. Troy to find them in a line item in the existing budget,” he said.

He said if the board didn’t approve an amount, “it’s only going to delay the process.”

Peters said board policy requires the district to put out bids for any amount exceeding $10,000.



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