D303 Board Votes to Hire HYA to Find a New Superintendent


Bridget Nelis

HYA’s cover slide from their Jan. 10 presentation

Bridget Nelis, Editor-In-Chief

On Jan. 18 the District 303 School Board voted unanimously to approve Hazard, Young and Attea Associates (HYA) as the firm to facilitate the search for a new district superintendent as Dr. Jason Pearson prepares to leave for Northbrook School District 28 on July 1. At the previous Board of Education meeting on Jan. 10, six firms presented to the board about why they should be hired to help find a superintendent. The final decision was between HYA and School Exec Connect.

“HYA, when they presented seemed really knowledgeable, and they seem to be able to meet the needs of what the district is looking for… HYA seems to have no conflict of interest and have a good quality background for what [the board] is looking for,” said Erin Manheim, English teacher. Manheim’s mother also works for a firm that helps hire administrators.

HYA presented a comprehensive plan to the Board detailing how they would help the Board over the next few weeks in the hopes of having a new superintendent by Spring Break. Their plan consists of four parts: engage, recruit, select and transition.

In the first part of their plan, HYA would find out what the district is looking for by meeting individually with the Board and current superintendent and running focus groups with students, staff and parents. 

“There’s going to be focus groups for students, for parents, for teachers and then the school board will meet,” said Manheim.“But I think you have a unique opportunity for students to be able to voice where they want this district to go and what they want their education to be like.” 

Additionally, the district currently has a contract with HYA for its Strategic Planning Process. HYA will blend the district’s  Strategic Planning Process and its search for a superintendent into one streamlined process. This allows HYA to only send one survey to community members and receive even more information.

During the recruiting phase, HYA posts advertisements for the job and posts the job listing on their website which has over 500 active searches happening everyday. HYA is also committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. 

According to their presentation at the Jan. 10 board meeting, “HYA commits to identifying, supporting and recruiting school and district leaders of color and gender who have long been historically underrepresented in these posts.”

In the selection part of the process HYA will present the board with a slate of candidates that they have deemed qualified for the position. They will help facilitate interviews between the candidates and the board. If the board chooses, HYA can also help facilitate a community forum with the candidates.

This slide outlined HYA’s overarching plan (Bridget Nelis)

“The biggest thing that as a district we need is communication. We need better communication, someone who is going to be really proactive in the way that they lead. So they have a vision of where this district needs to go in the future, but also is able to have a pulse on what’s happening so that they proactively address those concerns instead of constantly reactively addressing the concerns,” said Manheim.

After the board decides on a new superintendent, HYA will help in the transition phase as the new superintendent becomes accustomed to the job and district. They will assist with strategic planning and drafting superintendent goals.

HYA will cost the district $19,950. There may be additional costs if the board chooses to have national advertising or have a third party run background checks on candidates. If the board ends employment with the new superintendent within the first year of employment, HYA will conduct a new search for a superintendent at no additional cost to the district. 

The search team from HYA consists of Brian Harris, former superintendent of Barrington School District 220 for six years and Wheaton Warrenville School District 200 for four years and Glenn “Max” McGee, Illinois State Superintendent of Education from 1998-2001 and superintendent for various Illinois school districts for over 14 years.