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Focus Groups Will Meet Re: Search For 186 Superintendent

District 186 has chosen a search firm to find the next permanent superintendent. Walter Milton left earlier this year and Robert Leming has temporarily taken his place. The search firm School Exec Connect plans to accept applications until October, provided an ideal candidate is not found before then, says Springfield public school board president Chuck Flamini. He says the next step the search firm plans is organizing focus groups that will meet publicly:

FLAMINI :“Very very soon there will be announcements concerning meetings ... And what they’re going to try to do is do collective dreaming and come up with what they think is the criteria to be a really good superintendent ... in my opinion it’s a little bit unique, you don’t see that much often.”


Flamini says the focus groups will consist of members of the public and area organizations like the local chapter of the NAACP and the union representing district teachers. The search firm is costing the district around $20,000 dollars.The Board plans a meeting next week to discuss various policies, including a residency requirement for administrators. That rule is on the books, but some argue it has not been enforced.  


Two Springfield schools will have "enhanced dress codes" this coming school year - the district 186 school board approved them at this week's meeting. Matheny-Withrow Elementary and Feithsans will require students wear certain color pants - barring jeans. They'll also be required to wear polo shirts. District employee Anne Morris made a presentation on the current state of similar dress codes and uniform requirements in the district:
MORRIS: "Some parents have noted to principals - say that it has eliminated the morning fight about what to wear. And a couple of principals told me when they had days they said 'Hey you don't have to wear your uniform this Friday,' that they've had increased discipline issues."
Morris says several middle schools already have similar enhanced dress codes or uniforms and 2 elementary schools do. The 3 high schools have dress codes, but those are relaxed. Morris says some parents and students expressed concern over having to purchase certain clothes and limiting students' individuality.

Rachel Otwell of the Illinois Times is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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