The Dist. 181 Board of Education unanimously approved Don White, Ph.D. as the new district superintendent following a special meeting on Friday.
White will officially take over as head of the district’s nine elementary and middle schools on May 27. He was presented with a three-year contract at a base salary of $232,500, the district’s website said.
He will replace former superintendent Dr. Renee Schuster, was released from her contract in February citing family reasons, after a four-year tenure.
White was selected from a field of 43 candidates and six semi-finalists. Turek called White’s appointment “an outstanding match for our community.”
“From the beginning of our meetings, the board has been extremely impressed by Dr. White’s knowledge, experience and commitment to students, staff and families,” Turek said in a written statement. “The board is eager to support him in guiding the District to even higher levels of excellence.”
White brings 27 years of experience in education -- 19 as an administrator in Illinois schools. (See Dr. White’s complete resume.) Currently he is the superintendent of Troy Community Consolidated School District 30-C, an elementary district in Plainfield, with seven schools and approximately 4,500 students.
He holds a doctorate from Illinois State University with a superintendent’s endorsement, a master’s in education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Western Illinois University.
In addition to his involvement in a number of service and community organizations, he has held leadership roles in various professional organizations, including the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA). There, he served as a mentor, a professional development committee representative, and chair facilitator of the School for Advanced Leadership.
He has presented sessions and written articles on the topics of technology, staff evaluations, community engagement, finance, data-driven decision making, and leadership. Among other honors and awards, Dr. White earned the IASA Service to Education Award in both 2007 and 2012.
The district hired BWP & Associates to conduct the search for the incoming superintendent. The process included a survey, interviews and focus groups to develop a candidate profile that served as a guide during candidate screening and subsequent interviews.
Board members interviewed the three semi-finalists and asked their top three candidates to return for interviews with staff association leaders, school administrators, and district administrators, according to the district’s website.
White called the interview process a “good journey.”
“I felt a connection to the district and was made very comfortable in conversations with the board and other district leaders,” he said. “It was also clear that my core values were a good match to the Board and the organization as a whole.”
While not actively looking to make a change when he was contacted about the opening, White said he was drawn to District 181.
“I see a community that wants to dream big," he said. "I am energized by the idea of facilitating a conversation about where we want to go, understanding our readiness to get there, and then putting systems in place to plan how to best achieve those dreams. I also want to make sure people enjoy coming to work and that their skills and strengths can shine.”