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Downers Grove District 99 board hires School Exec Connect for superintendent search

DOWNERS GROVE – Community School District 99's Board of Education has approved hiring School Exec Connect to search for the district's next superintendent.

The board made the decision at its May 4 meeting. School Exec Connect and Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates presented. Both firms have worked with the board previously.

Board members discussed the proposals after representatives from the firms left the meeting room. 

School Exec Connect was used by the district in 2008 when Superintendent Mark McDonald was hired. McDonald has previously said he will retire when his contract expires June 30, 2016.

According to its board proposal, School Exec Connect would charge a consulting fee of $17,500 in addition to other search-related expenses. Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates would have charged a consulting fee of $19,500 plus additional costs.

School Exec Connect's presentation was delivered by Thomas Madden and Kathryn Robbins, both of whom have ties to the community. Madden is the former principal of Downers Grove South High School and was with School Exec Connect when it hired McDonald. Robbins lives in Downers Grove.

Board members overwhelmingly favored using School Exec Connect.

"I thought they both had wonderful things to offer. I just felt more comfortable with School Exec," Board President Nancy Kupka said.

Board member Michael Davenport said School Exec had a stronger request for proposal and presentation than the other firm.

"I just felt there was a little more openness and honesty in terms of how they presented themselves this evening," he said.

Don Renner, who was sworn in as the board's newest member earlier in the evening, said he felt School Exec Connect was the right hire.

"One of the most important things we should consider is personality and ability to be able to work with these two individuals," he said. "I see these two as being good representatives of the board as our agents in the community."

Board Vice President Terry Pavesich said she felt comfortable with both firms, but the presentation by Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates rubbed her the wrong way.

"I felt Hazard-Young was a little more aggressive," she said.

Board member Rick Pavinato liked both firms and said he was comfortable moving forward with either. But he said he worried about School Exec representatives becoming complacent because they had worked in the district before.

Several board members expressed concern that School Exec would be handling other searches as well as the district's, whereas Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates would be conducting one search at a time.

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