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D-428 superintendent search has top priority

Published: Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

DeKALB – With a new teachers’ contract now complete, DeKalb School District 428 board members are turning their focus to finding a replacement for Superintendent Jim Briscoe, who will retire at the end of the school year.

“With teaching negotiations going on, that was on the back burner, but now it’s a No. 1 priority,” school board President Tom Matya said Friday.

Briscoe filed retirement paperwork with the district in June and the board accepted his resignation, effective when his contract expires at the end of next June. Matya said the board had shelved the search process as it focused on contract negotiations with teachers, but could get going on the matter as soon as next week.

“What we’ve done over the past couple weeks, we’ve taken a look at the job description,” Matya said. “We’re doing that, and making decisions at the next board meeting ... on the process that we’re going to have going forward [with the search].”

Briscoe’s resignation came as a surprise for both parties. Briscoe, the district’s superintendent for the past six years, said he got caught up in the state’s pension reform discussions that were happening in the spring and made a decision to quit. According to the district, Briscoe earns a base salary of $199,210 annually.

“It was definitely a difficult decision, but all the discussions that were going on about pension reform caught me off guard,” Briscoe said. “I was concerned.”

The board had the same reaction.

“It did catch us offguard. Caught me offguard,” Matya said. “When we talked earlier, that wasn’t on the radar.”

Briscoe said his career likely isn’t over, but he hasn’t had time to think of where he may head next.

“I’m probably not ready to retire; I don’t see myself retiring,” he said. “We had a lot going on with the school year starting, so I haven’t put a lot of thought into what I plan to do. I’m just going to leave my options open.”

Matya said that many of the search discussions likely will take place in closed session, since they involve private personnel information.

He said he appreciated the work that Briscoe did in communicating a good image for the district to the DeKalb community.

“He built a lot of confidence with the community,” Matya said. “We wish him nothing but the best.”

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