Bridges named to School District 203 superintendent post
By Hank Beckman For The Sun August 20, 2012 9:10PM
New District 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges visits with kindergarteners at Ranch View Elementary on Tuesday, August 21, 2012. Bridges, who had been serving as superindentent on an interim basis, was appointed to the position permanently on Monday. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 23, 2012 6:09AM
That didn’t take long.
The search for a permanent superintendent for Naperville School District 203, which some thought might takes months, is over.
Board President Mike Jaensch announced Monday that interim Superintendent Dan Bridges will take on the job permanently.
“We knew we were looking for someone who is both an outstanding manager as well as a collaborative yet inspirational leader,” Jaensch said.
Filling the bill
Bridges, 42, has served as interim superintendent since Supintenent Mark Mitrovich resigned at the end of June after three years at the helm of the district.
Mitrovich made $228,000 in his final year with the district. Bridges’s three-year contract calls for him to make $225,000 a year, a raise from his current salary of $210,000. The district also will cover Bridges’ contribution to the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System pension fund and his health insurance premiums, which will not be included in his taxable income.
Bridges was originally hired in June 2011 as assistant superintendant for Secondary Education in District 203. He joined District 203 from West Aurora School District 129, where he held a number of leadership positions, including principal at the elementary, junior high and high school levels and district athletic director.
After Mitrovich announced in March that he would leave the district June 30, the School Board decided to bring on Bridges as interim superintendent for the 2012-13 school year. At the time, School Board members said the idea behind having an interim superintendent for a year was designed to give the district plenty of time to find a permanent replacement for Mitrovich.
Jaensch explained that the board had been deliberating and consulting with experts on the quality of candidates for the position and reviewed input from staff and the community since Mitrovich made his announcement in March.
He said the board realized it had a person who fit the bill in Bridges.
The board members kept specific criteria in mind as they reviewed candidates for the job. They were looking for someone who has a commitment to community engagement; is attentive to working with diversey populations and supporting inclusion; is an outstanding manager and collaborative leader; supports transparent and open communication; and has a high moral and ethical character, according to district officials.
“As these discussions matured, we realized we had the perfect person right in front of us, and unlike many interview processes that are over in a matter of weeks, the board has had the opportunity to observe and evaluate this candidate for over a year (since he worked for the district),” Jaensch stated. “He met every quality we were looking for and we unanimously agreed that this person was the ideal candidate to lead our district forward for what we hope is many years to come.”
Reaching a goal
“I feel great,” Bridges said after the School Board meeting Monday night. “I’m excited. It (the position) was a goal … it’s something I’ve wanted to do.”
Bridges wouldn’t comment on what specific policy issues he might tackle first, only saying, “I want to continue to move the district forward in a positive direction.”
Some big issues are hanging out there, though. The decision on all-day kindergarten was put off last spring with the intention of taking it up again this fall.
Then there are the coming Common Core State Standards, focusing on Math and English and adapted by Illinois to provide updated standards for all students.
Given the work to be done, Jaensch said the decision was a timely one.
“We looked at what was out there,” he said of the superintendant search. “We felt that this was the best person.”
Board members spoke highly of Bridges.
“I’m thrilled and couldn’t be more excited,” School Board member Susan Crotty said. “The district has a fresh start now and he has already proven himself.”
Crotty had particular praise for the way Bridges has already reached out to the community.
“This is one of those situations where you find a person that can step right into that role,” School Board member Suzyn Price said.