Unit 4 official among 4 finalists for Champaign superintendent

CHAMPAIGN — Champaign's school district announced four finalists for the open superintendents job Friday, including the current administrator who will soon be interim superintendent.

Judy Wiegand, the district's assistant superintendent for achievement and public services, is on the district's short list, along with Johnnie Thomas, associate superintendent for student services for a high school district in Arlington Heights; Darryl Taylor, superintendent of Lincoln Elementary School District in Calumet City; and Steven Cobb, chief academic officer at Fort Wayne Community Schools in Indiana.

The school board will interview the finalists next week, said a press release from the district, with help from a committee of community members. Board President Sue Grey said the meetings will be technically open to the public, but the interviews will happen behind closed doors.

That committee includes Nathaniel Banks, Laurie Bonnett, Charles Burton, Joan Dixon, Peter Fox, Ginny Holder, Charles Larenas, Pat Lewis, Rebecca Motley, Prue Runkle, Ryan Searby, Jennifer Shelby, Seth Swartz, Mirelsie Velazquez, Scott Walter and Barb Wilson.

The school board selected those individuals for the committee after they applied early in the search process. Grey said more than 50 people applied, and some of those have already participated in focus groups.

Questions for the superintendent candidates may be addressed to communitycommittee@champaignschools.org through Sunday.

The committee will evaluate each candidate on the profile the district's search firm developed using more than 1,000 responses to a committee survey distributed at the beginning of the superintendent search.

"Each committee interviewer will submit a feedback form to the board of education based on how the candidate matches the criteria in that profile," the district's press release stated.

The board hopes to have the new superintendent in place by July 1.

Wiegand was principal at Centennial High School from 2002 through 2007. She started as a special education teacher there in 1987. From 2007 until 2010, she was director of secondary education, assessment and professional development before taking her current job title. Her resume highlights her experience supervising high school campuses, the Pupil Services Department, the Instructional Technology Department and overseeing assessments for all students in the district.

She's also worked to develop staff members and has supervised writing the district's board policies and regulations.

She lists professional achievements of increasing dual-credit courses for high school students from seven in 2010-11 to 14 in 2011-12.

Taylor has been superintendent at Lincoln Elementary School District in Calumet City since 2007. Before that, he served as associate superintendent in Charleston, an elementary principal in Rock Island and dean of students at high schools in both Rock Island and Moline.

Thomas was a school social worker in the Chicago public schools from 2000 and 2004, and worked in Romeoville's Valley View School District from 2003 to 2009. During that time, he worked as instructional coordinator, assistant director of special education and executive director of student services.

In his current job in Arlington Heights, Thomas supervises the special education program, which serves 2,300 students with individualized education plans in a high school district that has 13,000 students. He also supervises and evaluates the district's student services staff, people like directors of alternative high schools, special education coordinators and office support staff.

Cobb has had his current chief academic officer title since 2009, and served as chief operations officer the year before that in Fort Wayne, which has 32,000 students in 53 schools.

He works with academic programs from prekindergarten through 12th grade, and also has responsibility for professional development, transportation, technology, human resources and student services. He's served as a district negotiator for teacher, transportation and non-certified staff unions, and participates in preparing the district's $254 million budget. He did cost analysis in all departments for a $15 million budget gap for the 2010-11 school year.

He's worked with assessments and the district made adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind guidelines for the last two years, his resume said, the first time since the standards were adopted.

Cobb was assistant superintendent at Frankfort, Ind., Community Schools. From 2008-09. Before that, he served as an elementary and middle school principal for 10 years at Southwest Allen County Schools, Fort Wayne.

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45solte wrote on December 09, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Wow.  Judy Wiegand is a remnant of the Culver administration.  It would be a shame to have any sort of continued promotion of that administration into the future. 

Champaignite wrote on December 09, 2011 at 2:12 pm

She is also a remnant of the Tim Hyland, Mike Cain, and Carol Stack administrations.  She is a long-time employee who is well-respected by nearly everyone in the district.  I'm just pleased that she reconsidered and decided to apply.

45solte wrote on December 09, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Really?  I was unaware of that.  Per her resume, I only see her in an Administrative position at the Mellon Building during Culver's tenure.