DeKALB – The District 428 school board on Tuesday is set to vote on the appointment of two superintendents to the role, and school Board President Sarah Moses said the decision to bring on a pair of interim superintendents was so the work could be divided and leadership in the district could continue by the time the new school year begins.
Ray Lechner and Griff Powell are retired superintendents with past interim experience, as they've spent the past school year serving in a similar role, as dual interim superintendents of Center Cass District 66 in Downers Grove, Woodridge and Darien, according to the district website.
D-428 Superintendent Jamie Craven announced in April he'd be his role in DeKalb to return to his smaller district roots as superintendent of Peru District 124.
“We were fortunate to find two highly experienced educational leaders who not only share District 428’s values, they also share a common passion for putting student learning at the center of their efforts,” Moses said in a statement Friday. “Dr. Powell and Dr. Lechner will ensure that the 2020-21 school year is a success by supporting the teachers, support staff, principals and central office administrators as they work to maintain the high quality of education in District 428. Each year is critical in the learning of a student. These two leaders understand that important concept and will keep the district on the path to meet the goals and objectives within our current plans.”
Lechner and Powell would serve in an interim capacity together from July 1 through June 30, 2021 and be paid $1,000 per day. Neither will receive benefits, the statement reads.
Since both are retired, each is limited to a maximum number of workdays per school year by the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System, the board statement states. Each will be available starting July 1 and both will be paid a collective per diem rate of $1,000 for each day they work.
"The per diem rate is a savings of over $27,000 compared to the former superintendent’s contract," Moses' statement reads.
According to district documents, the pay would not exceed 120 days for a total of $120,000 each, and the duo will not receive any retirement pay from District 428.
Lechner retired as superintendent from Willamete School District 39 in 2019, according to the D-39 Educational Foundation.
Moses said the two were selected as candidates by the school board after a 'thoughtful but expedient' process.
"The Board began the process by reaching out to respected and experienced educational leaders who have knowledge of District 428, its collaborative culture, and its dedication to learning for all students," the statement reads. "The full Board of Education met with finalist candidates and selected Dr. Powell and Dr. Lechner, based upon their unique strengths, abilities and varied experiences in education."
Powell served as superintendent in five school districts during his 35-year education career, including Niles Township District 219, West Chicago District 94, Ramapo Central School District in Hillburn, NY, Highwood-Highland Park District 111, and Grayslake District 127, according to the statement. He's been interim in eight districts following his retirement, and has a background as a school psycholgist.
Lechner worked as special education director in Orland Park, and in Wilmette Public Schools for 20 years, the last 12 of which he was superintendent.
The school board is set to take up the appointments during their regular meeting, set for Tuesday at 7 p.m.