On Jan. 9, 2023, the District 308 School Board held a special meeting where Superintendent Dr. John Sparlin announced his retirement. Serving since 2016, Dr. Sparlin will continue to hold his position until the end of the 2022-2023 school year. This has been labeled as “Big News” by the administration and politically involved parents, but what does that mean? Well today, we at 42Fifty discuss exactly why this change is so important. Welcome to SD308’s Superintendent Search.
The superintendent functions much like the executive office does in the federal government, working as the head honcho that leads every aspect of the school district—from the schools and staff, to the offices and administration. Their job—like the president—is enforcing the rules the other governmental bodies create: in this case, the Board of Education along with the state and federal governments. This includes tasks like creating new procedures or jobs, giving and taking away power to staff members, and any other action that aims to make sure the school district is following the rules. As such, it’s obvious why this job is so important—in the machine of education politics, they are the toolbox that tinkers.
So then, what is the SD308 Superintendent Search? After Dr. Sparlin announced his departure, the School Board opened submissions for professional search firms. These firms and their process—known as “Executive Search”—are created to find people who are highly-qualified for senior level and executive jobs. After this, their candidates are shown to the Board of Education who then vote in the new Superintendent. The submission period then closed, and on Feb. 1, three firms presented to the Board of Education. The Board then reviewed the presentations and made reference checks on all of the firms. By Feb. 6, the chosen firm had been announced: “School Exec Connect,” who impressively was listed as the first choice of every single Board member. And for now, this is where the information on the Search ends.
It is hard to say how this will impact the students and staff of school District 308, since no potential candidates have been announced for review to the public. However, it is likely that the Board of Education will end up choosing someone who lines up with their current values, keeping actions and policies much the same.
This isn’t to say that students, staff, and parents have no agency in the matter. By visiting sd308.org, active members of the community can contact the Board about qualities they would like to see in a new Superintendent. Community members can also always go to School Board meetings and voice their opinions to their elected officials. After all, it’s the community’s money and votes that put the members in office in order to represent them. Most importantly, county elections are coming up, so if you can vote, research the political candidates and vote for the ones who you feel best represent your values.
In the end, the SD308 Superintendent Search is an ongoing and ever-changing event—one that can be influenced by the community members at home. It is in our greatest interest to create the best environment possible for all of us. In an interview with 42Fifty, Dr. Sparlin most aptly summed up the issue: “We all have the same goal, and if we can come together and work together and all do a little bit, it adds up to a lot. That would be a strength of our community here that I hope to see continue to grow and flourish.”
This is the 42Fifty newsroom, I’ve been Victoria Segarra, doing our best to keep you informed. Let’s Go Panthers.
I love the podcast post! Good work, Victoria. 🙂