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Local News

Joliet District 86 picks search firm to help find superintendent

School board plans to put together timeline, gather community input

JOLIET — Ray & Associates Inc. will help Joliet Public Schools District 86 search for its next superintendent. 

The District 86 Board of School Inspectors approved the contract for the Iowa-based search firm Sept. 2 and plan to develop a timeline for the search. They also plan to be interviewed by a consultant from the firm to set search priorities, goals and objectives. 

“We will have community input through focus groups,” said board President Gwendolyn Ulmer.

Board inspectors began the process of finding another district leader after Superintendent Charles Coleman announced his retirement in a June 10 letter. He will retire July 1. 

Coleman, who has more than 34 years of experience as an educator, said his retirement is a “family decision.” 

District 86 will pay $18,000 as a base fee for Ray & Associates' services, according to the contract. The fee will be paid in three installments: the first due following board approval of the search timeline, the second due at mid-point of the search and the final due at the month the superintendent is officially hired. 

Ray & Associates was chosen from six companies the board reviewed since July. The search firm was picked because it had 40 years of experience, an outstanding reputation and national resources, Ulmer said. 

Board approval of the agreement was postponed at an Aug. 12 meeting after board inspector Jeffrey Pritz raised questions about the cost of travel expenses for a consultant from Ray & Associates. 

The contract states expenses such has travel, lodging, meals, postage, fax, photocopying, long-distance telephone calls and other search-related costs will be reimbursed by district officials.

According to the agreement, Ray & Associates acknowledged the district wants to keep expenses down for the search. A consultant who lives outside Illinois can fly to Chicago from St. Louis, where tickets run as low as $99 per flight. The consultant can also drive and stay with family instead of at a hotel. 

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