H-F board begins talks on finding Superintendent Mansfield's replacement

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H-F board begins talks on finding Superintendent Mansfield's replacement

December 01, 2020 - 22:20
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The District 233 school board hopes to name a replacement for retiring Superintendent Von Mansfield by the end of this school year. The new person would work directly with Mansfield during his last year with the district.


Von Mansfield

Mansfield announced several months ago that he would be retiring from Homewood-Flossmoor after serving as superintendent for 12 years. He was principal of the high school before that. He told the board during a special meeting Monday, Nov. 30, that he will step down as superintendent at the end of his contract June 30, 2022.

The meeting was called to hear a presentation by BWP & Associates search firm. 

Before the representatives made their presentation, board members Beth Larocca, Annette Bannon and Pam Jackson said they felt their input on a search firm was not considered. They proposed using the Illinois Association of School Boards, or at the very least asking for competitive bidding from several firms. Jackson said she felt the process was being rushed, and Bannon asked for “a more collaborative process.”

Steve Anderson, board president, and Gerald Pauling, board vice president, and members of the Personnel Committee have been in discussions with Mansfield about a transition timeline, Pauling said. Anderson told the Chronicle several search firms were considered and BWP & Associates was invited to make a presentation to the board.

The firm most recently led the search that resulted in Dana Smith being hired as superintendent in Flossmoor District 161. 

Of the three BWP presenters, two have direct links to the H-F area. Glenn Schlichting is a former assistant superintendent in Homewood District 153, and Steve Griesbach was a Flossmoor resident for nearly 20 years and was principal of Flossmoor Hills School before accepting a position elsewhere. Joining them on Monday was the firm’s president, Mark Friedman. All three bring expertise as former school superintendents.

Anderson told the Chronicle the District 233 board could hold another special meeting to vote on hiring BWP & Associates. The board's next regular meeting is Tuesday, Dec. 15. 

Should the board agree to work with the firm, Friedman said the search would begin immediately. Board members and stakeholders would be interviewed as a BWP search committee begins advertising the position. 

Friedman said the timing could give prospective candidates a chance to prepare their resumes over the holiday break. He expects a pool of about 30 candidates. Pre-screening of candidates would be in January and the pool would be reduced to ten or 12 likely candidates. In late January and February interviews will be conducted and the field will be winnowed down to five or six strong candidates. 

Friedman said the final three candidates would likely be announced in March, and the District 233 board is expected to make its final decision in March or April. 

Friedman told board members this timeline can be adjusted as needed. He said because of COVID-19, the search team will be spending more time recruiting by phone than in person at various conventions and meetings. He said a search can be done, and noted BWP just finished a successful search that was conducted totally online. He hopes COVID restrictions will be lifted and H-F’s board and community will get to meet the finalists in person.

The firm’s fee will be $18,900 and will cover all expenses. The search team will conduct  one-to-one interviews with board members, as well as host board workshops on hiring practices and interview techniques; conduct community and stakeholder surveys and meetings; and follow-up with the new superintendent as needed.

The plan is for the incoming superintendent to join the staff in summer 2021 and spend a year transitioning with Mansfield before taking over management of the district. Mansfield said in the next 24 months more than 30 administrators and faculty will be retiring and he hoped the new superintendent would be at H-F for some of the hiring.

Several board members asked if replacing someone with long tenure in the position would prove difficult, but Friedman said it speaks to the continuity in the district. There also was a question about bringing on a new person to shadow Mansfield. Friedman assured the board that process has been done before. District 153 is using that approach. Scott McAlister is assistant superintendent this year and will replace Dale Mitchell as superintendent when he retires in June.

“In this case, you’d have someone hands-on in the (transition) process,” Griesbach told the board. Friedman said a transition period would also give the new person a chance to building constituencies in the community and develop partnerships with leaders in the area.