Board: D. 202 to Hire New Superintendent by December

The Plainfield School District is staying local in its search for a deputy superintendent. The new administrator will fill Supt. John Harper’s shoes when he retires in July 14.

The Plainfield School District is hoping to recruit a new superintendent from a field of local candidates.

Board president Roger Bonuchi said the district has sent letters inviting superintendents from area districts to throw their hats into the ring.

The candidates will vie for a new deputy superintendent position. Whoever is chosen will ultimately replace longtime Superintendent John Harper, who is set to retire in July 2014.

“We consider it a very limited search,” said Bonuchi.

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“One of the reasons was that we knew we wanted to pick someone who is from Illinois, who is local to Will County,” Bonuchi added, saying board members want to make sure that whoever replaces Harper understands the state funding situation and the district’s demographics.

Harper, who has been superintendent since 2002, will retire at the end of a 33-year career in District 202.

Two committees — one comprised of District 202 administrators and the other of parents and school staff — will interview the candidates this fall and make their recommendations to the board.

“Our goal is to have our selection made and to offer a contract by December,” Bonuchi said.

He acknowledged that the board’s timeline means the district will be paying salaries to both Harper and the new deputy superintendent at the same time.

Bonuchi said the district will fund the new administrator’s salary using money saved by the departures of four highly paid assistant superintendents, all of whom have been replaced by staffers making lower salaries.

He cited former assistant superintendents Sharon Gronemeyer (student services), John Prince (business and operations), Carmen Acevedo (curriculum and instruction) and Darlene von Behren (administration and personnel).

“Every one of those people made considerably more than the people who are in those positions now,” Bonuchi said.

He declined to give the salary range proposed for the new deputy superintendent.

“I’m not going to reveal that information because it’s part of the contract negotiations and it’s personnel,” Bonuchi said.

He added that a professional superintendent search consultant is helping the district find a replacement for Harper “so we’re doing it legally and fairly.”

District 202 Community Relations Director Tom Hernandez said fees paid to the consultant, Dr. Linda Hanson of School Exec Connect, are capped at $2,500, plus ancillary expenses including the cost of copying documents. He said he did not yet know the total amount Hanson will be paid since she is working through District 202's attorneys, and any costs associated with the search will be part of the district's regular monthly legal bills.


  • District 202 Begins Search for New Superintendent
  • Plainfield School Board OKs Deficit Budget for 2013
  • Plainfield Schools: 12 of 28 Campuses Make AYP 


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Vera September 27, 2012 at 12:03 PM
I guess I should be thanking the board members for saving the district time and money by not going through a big show of posting the job nationally or state-wide, getting 100 applicants, narrowing it down to 10 and narrowing the list to four candidates to interview and perhaps two candidates to meet the public before making a selection. Instead, they are going to send out a limited number of invites based on their limited knowledge of folks, and perhaps hire a friend that they can control and do what the board wants and not necessarily what is best for children. Thank you, board members. Thank you! This search is highly unusual and is not the best way to find the best candidate. Why not give people the option to apply? The board may not actually know who is out there that fits their criteria. Did they ever think of that? The bottom line: Taxpayers pay for the superintendent's salary. This process should be OPEN. It is not open when only seven board members choose to send out letters to ask a few selected people to apply. This is bad, bad, bad. Shame on Roger Bonuchi, Mike Kelly, Rod Westfall, Michelle Smith, Eric Gallt, Kevin Kirberg and Greg Nichols. Please do what is best for the district. Not your egos.
Vera September 27, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Mr. Bonuchi, Salary ranges are public. You are playing with taxpayers' money. On your district website, the salary range for assistant superintendents is: $122,831 to $178,006 plus benefits. Now, that the district has created a deputy superintendent position that range should be posted. The salary for the new deputy superintendent should be based on the number of years that person has had in a deputy superintendent position at a district similar to the size of Plainfield Community Consolidated School District. Please, Mr. Bonuchi, no more secrets.
Vera September 27, 2012 at 12:34 PM
School board members have complained that it is difficult to compare Plainfield School District to local districts in Will County because Plainfield is the largest in the county and the fifth largest in the state. So please tell me how you are going to recruit experienced local superintendents who could lead a district as large as Plainfield's? By the way, Valley View, Oswego and Naperville all have new superintendents - so more than likely you aren't going to get those folks to come over because they have new contracts. Are you really thinking of recruiting former employees who now lead small school districts? So someone who has lead perhaps, very small Richland School District, can now hop on over and lead Plainfield? Is it because John Harper can train the person for a year and make it work? Please tell us what you are thinking? Please explain: Why this search shouldn't go statewide? Why this search shouldn't be open to the public? Why you aren't asking people to apply? Why is it by invite only? The board was elected by the people. The deputy superintendent selection process SHOULD NOT be treated like you are on college campus picking a new member for your fraternity or sorority.
Sheila Raddatz September 27, 2012 at 05:45 PM
I think our district should find a candidate with a balance of corporate and education experience. We need someone with a different approach on the issues we are feeling that stem from the "5 year glut"...
John Tips September 27, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Personally I am tired of overpaying administrators while some of our schools have failed to pass muster! As it was when I was in the service - when a company failed, their commander was replaced! I am still upset that the board allowed Mr. Harper to take his entourage of people to sunny Mexico City a few years ago under the guise of finding a bilingual teacher there. I recall being told by Mr. Hernandez NO qualified teachers were available in this county, state, or even the entire country! As a taxpayer myself, I would like to see Mr Hernandez follow Mr. Harper out of our district! This entire district need a housecleaning this election from the board on up and down! The taxpayers of this district should be getting much more for their money then a vacation fund for Mr. Harper! I for one am happy to see him go, along with some of the board members who were much to extravagant in todays economy! This district must learn to be financially responsible without becoming more of a burden upon their taxpayers!
Lucille September 28, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Last two Patch headlines Plainfield Schools: 12 of 28 Campuses Make AYP Plainfield School Board OKs Deficit Budget for 2013 Yeah let's narrow the search, so we can have more of the same.
holeinone September 28, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Please enough is enough! Let's look at this, does Dr. Harper, or did Dr. Harper deserve $ 250K plus a year? Our school district has went downhill since him and his elite school board took over.... I say take the money and run Dr. Harper....it's been planned alll along with his school board giving him his nice raises. Work in the real world Mr. Harper.....
holeinone September 28, 2012 at 03:39 PM
So how does someone run a school district broke, students grade averages drop and then deciede to retire and collect a huge pension. And on top of all of this our great school board wants to pay someone to sit in and learn from this great accomplisments. WOW....let's get out and vote...GET Mr. Harpers school board out before they destroy Plainfield schools even more.
Vera October 06, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Does anyone know why the board is holding its deputy superintendent interviews at the Plainfield Police station next week?
oldschool October 06, 2012 at 03:03 AM
Too much hiring from within in this district...educational inbreeding.
Vera October 06, 2012 at 05:44 AM
Preparing nepotism for the future. Too many board members with employees in the district.
Vera October 06, 2012 at 05:55 AM
The board president said they don't want to hire a stranger. They want to hire someone they trust and know. Well, hopefully, they know someone who has a record of making tough decisions, knows how to deal with a diverse student population with a variety of needs and can say no to the board when the members want to make a decision that will win them popularity points. I doubt they would hire such a person, but you got to hope. At least, I saw Harper stand up to them and tell them no - despite a cushy contract. I'm afraid the new superintendent (based on invitation only) won't have that backbone. Hopefully, Patch can get the names of the folks they interviewed and do an in-depth story on their records, interviewing parents, staff and board members from that district. Patch - please don't let us down!


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