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186 Plans Focus Group Mtgs To Aid Search For New Supt.

The search continues for a new superintendent for district 186. So far eight people have applied for the position to head Springfield public schools. The district is currently planning a two day summit later in the month consisting of meetings among the search firm leading the effort, teachers, parents, and other community members. Board member Scott McFarland is helping plan the meetings. He says the search firm hopes to garner more applicants and then narrow down the options based on feedback from the board and the community:

MCFARLAND: “What will happen is after we have these focus group meetings - and the open meetings, they will start looking at their initial group of people. They will vet the group, which will be about 15 applicants - that will get it down to about 7 that we will see - the board. And the board will select about 3 top candidates, and that’s when the community will get back involved again to see which candidate will be the best pick.”

McFarland stressed the importance of the public’s involvement in the search process for a new superintendent. At last night's meeting, the board discussed whether it's worth spending the money required to have two days of meetings versus one. They ultimately agreed two days would be best - August 27th and 28th.

Mike Lopez, a ‘Springfield Parents for Public Schools’ board member says it’s worth spending extra money and time, if it means the community has a chance to fully weigh-in on the search:

LOPEZ: “We have to do this process right ... I want a superintendent who’s going to be here for 8 to 10 years. I don’t want a superintendent in the district that’s going to build a resume and move onto another district in 2 to 3 years.”

Walter Milton left the position before his contract was up earlier this year - his separation agreement was worth over $175,000 dollars. Long-time administrator for the district, Robert Leming, is temporarily in the position.

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