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District 202 Begins Search for New Superintendent

Board announces it will hire a deputy superintendent who will take Harper's place as he retires after 33 years with the Plainfield School District.

The Plainfield School District 202 board on Monday announced it will begin its search for a new superintendent to succeed Dr. John Harper, who plans to retire in July 2014.

Board president Roger Bonuchi said the district will use a succession plan to help ease the transition to the new superintendent. The board will ultimately decide on a deputy superintendent who will then become superintendent once Harper retires.

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As part of the process, board members have invited a pool of candidates to meet with them in the coming month. They will then form a committee of parents, community and staff members and another committee of administrators who will interview the candidates and offer feedback to the board.

The board will hold at least two closed-session board meetings in October to discuss the new superintendent search.

On Monday night, the board of education issued a letter to District 202 staff and community members announcing plans to begin the search for Harper's replacement. 

The letter reads, in part: 

The Board of Education has invited a pool of highly qualified candidates to meet with us this month to determine if we believe they might be excellent candidates for our District.   

Once a pool of qualified candidates is formed, we will create two committees: one made up of staff members and parents/community members and the other consisting of administrators. These committees will interview the candidates and share their feedback and perspectives with the Board of Education. We will ask these committees to act in a confidential manner to ensure that we have the strongest candidate pool possible. 

To read the entire letter, click here.

Harper will retire as his contract with District 202 expires. He has been with the Plainfield School District for his entire career, starting in 1981, when he was hired as a social studies teacher at Indian Trail Middle School. He stayed at Indian Trial for nine years, going on to serve as dean of students and assistant principal.

He became principal at Grand Prairie Elementary in 1990 before moving on to serve the same role at Timber Ridge Middle School in 1996.

Harper became the district's assistant superintendent of operations in 1999 before being promoted to superintendent in 2002.

According to District 202 documents, Harper's base salary for the 2011-12 school year was $270,446.33, plus an additional $49,007 in benefits.

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jolietkenny September 25, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Here we go again, another Teacher retiring after 33 years! Most of those years working 9 month's a year plus tons of days off! They barely pay for health care and get a very good pension. All after 30 years or so. While in the real world the rest of us saps have to work 40-45 years before even thinking of retiring! Then they wonder why the State has pension money problems. Yep, Teachers have a tough job allright!!
Ernie Knight September 25, 2012 at 06:12 PM
A Superintendent is not a teacher. He was a teacher for less than 9 years out of 33. Criticizing teachers based on this is akin to blasting entry-level corporate employees for the bonuses lavished upon executives.
Lisa S. September 25, 2012 at 06:16 PM
So to ease the transition we need to hire a 'deputy superintendent' who will become the superintendent when Harper retires in 2014. So we will be paying for two people to do one job until Harper leaves? Awesome. Maybe we could just hire someone competent who can simply start around when he leaves? We don't need to teach the new dog old tricks...we need change in this District.
jolietkenny September 25, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Hey Ernie, regular teachers and all kinds of Public employee's get to retire after 30 years. Thats a big reason why Government pensions are in such trouble. Social Security is in trouble now, imagine how big a hole they would be in if we could all retire at 55 or so.
Zaney September 25, 2012 at 09:50 PM
jolietkenny.....you could have been a teacher or a public employee...obviously you chose not to.
Jethro September 25, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Omg. How is this district ever gonna survive without the great John Harper??!!
silentrippy September 25, 2012 at 10:10 PM
They will find someone else just like Harper who supports corporate welfare while all the rest of the homeowners like us get tax increases.
BIGMOUTH September 25, 2012 at 11:18 PM
I agree
BIGMOUTH September 25, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Hopefully we won't be paying the new Super. a quarter of a million dollars. That is just the base salary that is not all the "Perks" he has.. It is past time for Mr. Harper to be gone. We need someone who is down to earth and doesn't feel the need to have to be paid so much, so that our students can actually benefit from our tax money. Yes, there may be a lot of responsibility, but how many school did we have in this district that didn't do so well this last year??? NO EXCUSE for that....
Vera September 26, 2012 at 01:41 PM
I was just wondering if the board hired a search firm to get their pool of candidates for the deputy superintendent position and why they didn't advertise the job post on their own website? Who did they hire to do the search? How much will it cost? Why isn't the job posted on the district website? How many people applied? How many candidates are being interviewed? Hopefully, Shannon or Michelle will put on their investigative reporting hats and get us this information. In the 2013-14 school year, Harper is expected to make $342,675. These earnings do not include board-paid health insurance, life insurance and an annual travel stipend of $4,560.
Vera September 26, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Lisa - Good question. When the board extended Harper's contract, the raise for next year is based on Dr. Harper completing a plan that will ensure a smooth transition from old to new. So why does the board feel they have to hire two people for one year? Is this really a good idea especially when they may have to cut more teachers?
Ernie Knight September 26, 2012 at 02:01 PM
kenny, The teacher's pensions would not be in trouble if corrupt politicians had not been finding back doors into the system for their cronies or paid the required contributions rather than raiding the funds to use on other things. How is it that a pension system that worked for decades, is now suddenly unsustainable? Because the corruption peaked! Most government pension systems that allow retirement after 30 years of service, are financially sound. That is not the problem. Do your homework.
Vera September 26, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Superintendents' pension comes from the Teachers Retirement System.
Vera September 26, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Is the current board rushing the decision on the new superintendent by picking a "deputy superintendent" because of the upcoming board election in 2013? Four spots are open. Mike Kelly, Rod Westfall, Michelle Smith and Eric Gallt. Do they want to be part of the selection process and that's why they came up with this very expensive decision to have a deputy superintendent and a superintendent? Otherwise, if not re-elected - they would not have a say in the new superintendent. The newly elected members would.
Bruce M September 26, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Let's make sure the new superintendent is paid every possible dime available of tax-payer money. Every single expense in their day-to-day activities should be paid and maybe even reduce their responsibilities. Give them money for the rest of their life. Afterall this person is more important and has more responsiblities than the U.S. President. sincerely, Mr Sarcasm

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