By Michele Gruba


BELVIDERE – On Thursday, Sept. 24, B.W.P and Associates hosted a community forum to allow stakeholders an opportunity to assist them in searching for School District 100’s new superintendent. Unfortunately, only ten members of the community were in attendance.

The consensus among attendees regarding the night’s dismal numbers seemed to be alack of communication and advertisement by District 100. Those who did participate indicated they became aware of the event via Facebook posts by PASS (Parents Advocating for Students and Staff), a local advocacy group or a Robocall by the school district.

Les Ried former District 100 school board member agreed with that assessment.

“Lack of publicity was a factor,” Reid said.

In an email response from Mark Friedman, B.W.P and Associates President, he indicated that low turnout is not unusual and should not hinder the selection process.

“The numbers were fairly typical of what we see in most districts and won’t have a negative impact. There was a great discussion, and we pulled some valuable information. The open forum is just a small part of the profile we are building, so we were not unhappy with the turnout,” Friedman        said.

Reid discussed why it is imperative to be actively engaged in the community and the importance of his participation in the superintendent selection process.

“Having been a member of the District 100 school board in the past and having been involved in the selection of two past superintendents it is critical to make the best selection possible. As a stakeholder in the community, I feel a responsibility to stay involved, and I wish more people would become involved in the community.”

B.W.P partner, Anne Noland, and consultant, Patricia Wernet, lead the discussion by explaining the areas where they would be collecting data. They wanted good qualities of the school district, areas of concern, traits that are important for a new superintendent, and open discussion regarding the future of the district.

Although the group of participants was small, there appeared to be a good cross-section of the Boone County population. Everyone was very enthusiastic while providing feedback and had a united desire for positive change within School District 100.

“The importance of selecting the right superintendent for this district has never been more apparent,” Reid said.

Reid’s thoughts were echoed during the discussion on areas of concerns. The majority cited long-standing communication deficits and lack of trust between District 100 and the community. The new superintendent will need to work on rebuilding confidence and foster meaningful communication with stakeholders to repair community relations.

“Establishing themselves quickly as a leader with vision in the District 100 community,” Reid said on the obstacles facing a new superintendent and as far his hopes for the future: “a renewed respect for parents and district employees.”

Positive aspects the District 100 community were also discussed, and again, the participants were in agreement: dedicated teachers, parent support, incredible kids, satisfaction with new additions to the school board and excellent facilities.

Mark Friedman conceded, explaining all of those attributes add value when attracting quality superintendent candidates.

“We are optimistic. In a tight market for superintendents, we will be very proactive in sharing with potential candidates what a good job the Belvidere Superintendent position is. Our day in the district confirmed Belvidere would be a great career move for the right person. The positives far outweighed any negatives,” Friedman said.

The most important information B.W.P collected over the course of the evening was the characteristics desired in a new superintendent: honesty, problem solver, good character, communicator, vision, and accountability.

Throughout the day, B.W.P and Associates held focus group around the district gathering information from district employees, school board members, and the community. They also used a survey that was available on the district 100 website until Oct. 1.

According to Friedman, all the information will be compiled, and the data will be used to help them bring quality candidates to the table.

“When we have all of this information we will prepare a formal Profile Report and then present it to the Board of Education.”

The next opportunity for the community to hear the status of B.W.P’s search for the next superintendent will be at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the board of education on Oct. 13, at 6 p.m. at the central office.

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