Decision on school superintendent could come by tonight

Superintendent candidate Steve Schultz listens as school board member Diann Rice asks him a question during a board meeting Monday at the Basil T. Knight Center.

The School District 51 board could decide as early as this evening whether to boost Assistant Superintendent Steve Schultz to the top job, or come up with another plan.

Schultz, who has worked for District 51 since 1982, interviewed Monday with the board in a public session at the Basil T. Knight Staff Development Center.

Schultz introduced his bid with a YouTube video stocked with provocative data bits, such as how the top 10 jobs expected to be on the market in 2010 didn’t exist in 2004.

To prepare students for work beyond their graduation from District 51, the district needs to change in several ways, among them eliminating the idea of D’s and F’s, Schultz told the board.

Instead of simply shuttling students through the system with bad grades, the district needs to work more closely with them to boost their understanding of the subject matter.

“No kid should be walking around with a D average,” Schultz told the board and an audience of a dozen people.

Efforts to step in with additional help and time when students show signs of difficulty grasping subjects need to continue and be better focused, he said.

“I’ve been in every instructional role in the district,” Schultz said. “I’ve looked into the face of a struggling reader and I’ve worked with kids in gifted and talented” programs.

Students “need meaningful support for success,”  he said, adding that his long association with the district could have benefits for students because some studies have correlated sustained leadership with improved student performance.

Schultz, who holds a master’s degree in public administration and two bachelor’s degrees, has been associate superintendent under departing Superintendent Tim Mills for six years and has had a hand in several initiatives the district has taken, including working on a performance-based policy, the Independence Academy charter school and the Glade Park School, which the district plans to open this fall.

Mills is leaving his $175,000-a-year post at the end of June.

District 51 needs to better communicate with employees, students and the public, Schultz said, and should go out of its way to make sure needed information gets out.

“We could send out text messages to students,” he said to smiles from the board. “We laugh,” he said, but the district needs to take advantage of all the methods it can to get out information about itself and its programs.

The district also needs to simplify its approach in communications, and reach out to professionals, businesses and service clubs, Schultz said.

Ultimately, he said, “I hope people come here because of the quality of the educational system.”

Physical education, music and the arts will be encouraged “as resources allow,” he said. “I know there’s a lot more that can be done there. It’s not all about raising test scores.”

He supports pay-for-performance, he said, as long as the rewards are for the right things.

“Pay for performance should benefit the students,” he said.

Board members said they’d consider what they were told.


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