School district searches for next superintendent


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The Champaign Unit 4 School District held its first of two community meetings regarding its superintendent search.

Dr. Susan Zola announced in March she would be retiring from her position in June 2021, after 30 years with Unit 4. She first began working with the district in 1991. In June, the school board unanimously approved a $17,500 agreement to work with the search firm Ray and Associates for the selection process.

The firm’s regional search director, Gloria Davis, attended Wednesday night’s community meeting at Booker T. Washington. Davis served as Decatur’s superintendent for eight years prior to retiring and joining the search firm.

“We want to work with the board to select someone that’s a good fit,” Davis said. “That’s the most important part: looking at the future of Champaign, which is an outstanding district. All districts have their challenges during COVID, but we know there are things the next superintendent will have to address and we are just here to help the district find the right person.”

School board president Amy Armstrong said the board is looking for a superintendent who can advance the goals of Unit 4’s Strategic Plan.

“I think we’ve had some big lifts in the district with the strategic plan,” Armstrong said. “The next exciting part will be implementing that plan.”

One parent showed up to the meeting Wednesday night. She told Davis she’s hoping for a superintendent that engages with the community and puts an emphasis on open communication.

Davis shared the following timeline for the superintendent search:

  • October 1: Ray and Associates will share a summary of its findings from speaking with community members, staff and stakeholders about what they want from a superintendent
  • October 1 – November 29: Position will be advertised
  • November 29 – mid-December: Ray and Associates to review and narrow down applications to 10-12 top choices.
  • December 16: Ray and Associates will share videos of those applicants answering three questions (What successes have you had in your current position? How have you advanced achievement and closed the gap? How have you engaged the community?)
  • Board will narrow the slate down to 5-6 choices and conduct face-to-face or Zoom interviews
  • Mid-January: Board will narrow search to two finalists
  • End of January: New superintendent will be selected

The second community meeting is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at Garden Hills Academy.

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