Danville board president urges search firm to help fill superintendent job

Danville board president urges search firm to help fill superintendent job

Denman stepping down June 30 of next year after 40 years in district

DANVILLE — The Danville school board will begin discussing its search for a new district leader this week.

Superintendent Mark Denman plans to retire on June 30, 2015, after more than 40 years with the district. He and board President Bill Dobbles said it's important to begin the selection process now to ensure the strongest pool of candidates.

"It will be very difficult to fill Mr. Denman's shoes," Dobbles said, pointing to Denman's long association with the district as a student, teacher and administrator. "He knows everybody in the district and community and practically every student who went here. We want to make sure we get the best person to replace him."

Last time, the district conducted its own superintendent search. A committee of administrators, teachers and community members screened applicants, and the board chose Denman from three finalists.

While that worked out well, Dobbles said he's going to suggest hiring a professional search committee to do an initial search this time around.

He said the board could hire the Illinois Association of School Boards or another search firm to announce the vacancy nationally, create a list of qualifications that the board is looking for and screen applicants, among other things. Once the firm narrows down the candidates, the board would interview the finalists and make its selection, Dobbles said.

"It's a really complex process. I think we need the help of professionals to get the best candidates," said Dobbles, who plans to pass out search information, including a timeline, to board members at Wednesday's meeting. "Of course, it will be up to the board to decide what to do."

Ideally, the board would be ready to appoint his successor around Christmas or early next year, Denman said. He said that would give the next superintendent a chance to become familiar with the district and offer input on matters that are being discussed.

And if the successor is selected from within the district, officials will have time to fill other vacancies that are created. Both Denman and Dobbles said they believe there are a few well-qualified in-house candidates.

A Danville native and 1971 Danville High graduate, Denman began teaching at East Park in January 1975 when it was still a junior high school. Starting in 1983, he served as principal of Daniel Elementary, East Park Elementary, North Ridge Middle School and the high school. He was appointed associate superintendent in 2004 and superintendent in 2009.

In July 2012, Denman announced that he planned to step down this June 30. But after the associate superintendent, high school principal and several others in key administrative posts retired, he agreed to postpone his retirement until the following year to help ensure a smooth transition among district leaders.

On tap

What: Danville school board meeting.

When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Where: Jackson Building, 516 N. Jackson St., Danville.

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