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The Evanston/Skokie School District 65 board at a brief special meeting this morning appointed Barbara S. Hiller as chief administrative officer for the school year that starts Monday.

Hiller, who retired from District 65 in 2005, has worked since then as an administrator coach for the Consortium for Educational Change.

School Board President Tracy Quattrocki said Hiller “has spent almost 30 years of her professional career in District 65” as a teacher, principal of Nichols Middle School and assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

Quattrocki said, “Her experience will be invaluable to the day-to-day operational management of our schools.”

Mary Brown, the district’s business manager, will perform duties that under state law are required to be handled by a state-endorsed superintendent.

Brown will carry the title interim superintendent for the coming year and will continue to be the business manager and school treasurer.

Hiller said that because she’s worked with many current staff members in the district, she’s confident everyone will work together to “make sure that the Evanston/Skokie school community has a smooth transition this year.”

The board’s appointments fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Superintendent Hardy Murphy, who resigned effective Aug. 9.

Next month the board plans to begin the process of selecting a permanent superintendent to be hired for the 2014-15 school year.

Quattrocki said, in an emailed message to parents, that the interim leadership solution “did not burden the district with any additional administrative costs for the coming year, nor did it create any holes in our district leadership team.”   

Top: Barbara Hiller and Mary Brown.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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26 Comments

  1. Barb Hiller is a fabulous

    Barb Hiller is a fabulous choice for the job of working with teachers, students and administrators this year. As a parent of graduated Nichols students and a long time member of the Evanston community, I thank the board for this decision!

  2. This is wonderful news

    This is wonderful news for District 65.  I have known Barb for since my children attended Nichols.  I worked closely with her as the Nichols PTA president and worked in the central office the last few years before she retired.

    She is compassionate, seeks input, understands the impact that decisions in the central office have on the teachers and most importantly, the students in the classroom. She also understands the community and has worked with Foundation 65 to bring resources into the schools.

    She will bring healing leadership to the district and she and Mary Brown will make an excetllent team. We have seen several  business managers come and go over the past few years.  Mary has brought a sense of stability to this department.  Congratulations to the board on this decision.

    Myra Janus

  3. I am so happy that Barb’s

    I am so happy that Barb's expertise and caring attitude returns to our district!  Joyful news!

  4. Great decision D65 Board

    Barb Hiller is a wonderful choice for Chief Administrative Officer!  D65 board couldn't have picked a better leader ! Barb knows what it is like to be a teacher, a principal, an administrator, a parent, and a taxpayer  in Evanston. Thank you Barb for your willingness to serve. Thank you D65 board for your great decision!

  5. Consolidate! When do want it? Now!

    Wonderful.

    Now when do we start talking about consolidation? Even the Better Government Association is trying to consolidate or eliminate the massive number of government entitites in the state.

    It's time we do the consolidation dance again.

  6. I don’t understand

    I don't understand why Barb Hiller could not be the interim superintendant. What exactly is a state endorsed superintendent?  Do the have to have a certain type of degree? Is there a test they take? I am amazed at what I don't know!

    1. Endorsement

      Mary has additional credentials added by way of her masters or doctorial degrees, and certification that authorize her to sign off on items, such as payroll and vendor checks.  Since Barb is responsible for the day to day managment of administration, that includes the business and superintendent's offices, Barb is the BOSS.  

      1. Now I am really puzzled

        Then who will sit in the superintendent's chair at the school board meetings, Mary or Barb?  Also, does this mean that Barb could not be chosen as the permenant superintendent?  Does anyone know what, if any, qualifications are required to be a school superintendent in Illinois.  If anyone can hold elective office (alderman, mayor, congressman etc… does the same hold true for this position?   

        1. This is what ISBE (Illinois Board of Education) requires

          C. Superintendent
          This endorsement is required of school district superintendents.
          a. Candidates for the superintendent's endorsement shall hold a master's degree or higher awarded by a regionally accredited institution of higher education.
          b. Candidates shall have completed an Illinois program approved for the preparation of superintendents or a comparable approved program in another state or country or hold a comparable certificate issued by another state or country.
          c. Candidates shall have at least two years' full-time administrative or supervisory experience in schools, on a general supervisory, general administrative, director of special education, or all- grade supervisory endorsement on an administrative certificate, or a comparable out-of-state credential.
          d. Candidates shall be required to pass the applicable content-area test, as well as the test of basic skills. Individuals who hold valid, comparable certificate from other states will receive a waiver of the Basic Skills test unless previously attempted and failed. View the ICTS Web site for testing information. (Note: When Public Act 097-0607 becomes effective, no exemption will be available for the Basic Skills test.)
          e. The educator must have completed 30 semester hours of graduate credit beyond the master’s degree in a program for superintendents with 16 semester hours in professional education.

          From http://www.isbe.net/licensure/requirements/section10.pdf

          I am thrilled the Board (finally!) decided to put a seasoned, knowledgeable, humane educator at the helm.

        2. Not pretentious or 2 heads are better than 1

          I doubt Mary or Barbara really care who sits in the superintendent's seat at board meetings, but I'm guessing it will be Mary since she holds the "place holder" title.  It does not appear Barb holds the necessary credentials to become  a superintendent at this point in time.  Mary has a masters and Ph.D, which include the necessary endorsement to become a superintendent in accordance with the Illinois School Code and ISBE.  

          Illinois superintendents require a Type 75 certification,  along with additional educational endorsements, which apparently Mary has.  However, Prez Quattracki said before the official announcement "the interium has no desire to become superintendent at D65 long term."  She also said the board is looking to the community to become activily involved in placing a new permanent superintendent sometime next year. The board is counting on the community to become involved in creating a long term vision, mission  and strategic goals along side the board and newly appointed superintendent – – who ever that may be.

          1. Interim leaders versus “long-term” leaders

            When an organization is in transition and appoints an interim leader, it's best that that interim leader is not also an applicant for the permanent position. When he or she is gunning for the top job, he or she can make decisions that pressure or influence the board to install him or her in the full-time role. When it's clear that the interim is not the next superintentent-in-waiting, the board and the community are free to start fresh, with input from everyone.

          2. Point well made

            Your comment reminds me of when George W. Bush appointed Dick Cheney as head of the search team for his Vice President.  After his lenghly interviewing of candidates, I guess he convinced the President- to- be that he was the best man he could find.  Hence, the Bush/Cheney Presidency.

            Also, thanks to all on the specifics on the qualifications needed to be a supertindent. 

  7. A very bright future ahead for District 65

    Quattrokii and Hiller!!!!  Good news from Districk 65.

  8. Great to have Barb Hiller at the helm!

    I could not be happier!  Kudos to Barb Hiller and kudos to the D65 Board.  District 65 finally has BOTH a competent board AND competent leadership on the Hill!

  9. Except

    While Ms. Hiller and Dr. Brown are acceptable to some, I don't think they are oriented to change or continuous improvement. I bet they were selected by the Board for their inclination to compliance to Board directives.

    How does this appointment help us towards selecting the next superintendent?  It tells any candidate that we like the way things used to be.

    This is not a progressive decision. 

    1. Why? Reasons?

      Why have you concluded that these two women are not "oriented to change or continuous improvement"?  It would be nice to know your reasons. 

      I don't know either of these women other than from newspaper articles. But I am thrilled that the divisive autocrat who previously held the title of superintendent is gone. And I am eager to see whether these two leaders can run D65 without the administrative-driven smugness and divisiveness that dominated the last 13 years. 

      I believe that virtually all people who live in this city are people of good will who want all students to have the opportunity to succeed. Programs that have data or research indicating that such results are much more likely than not will be warmly received. Poorly-conceived gimmicks that lack support from data or research will be questioned and likely rejected. These basic principals of good administration were ignored by the former superintendent with the specific purpose of dividing the Board and the community so he could do whatever he wanted.  Identifying every opportunity to divide the Board and community and exploiting each such opportunity was his standard M.O.  

      Good riddance. The fact that this community tolerated such subpar leadership for 13 years is shocking to me. And I don't say that because of the color of his skin. I say it because of the quality of his character and the lack of significant improvement in closing the achievement gap during his 13 year tenure when other schools and school districts have made much better progress on that issue.

      Let's give this leadership team an opportunity to demonstrate their vision and approach before we make judgments.  If they want to work with this Board and this community to improve opportunities for all students, I will welcome that long-overdue change. 

      And it may be a lost concept given the last 13 years but a superintendent's job is to give good counsel to the Board then comply with their directives.  Complying with the Board's directives is something that a superintendent must do as the head employee. 

       

    2. Of course

      This board is giddy over the chance to return district 65 to the "good old days" before they were required to teach all kids.  It is up to the community to let them know that we will not tolerate that.

      1. Explanation needed, please

        I don't follow your comments. What students were not "taught" in the past?  Are you saying that some students were physically excluded from classrooms?  

        If that wasn't what happened, how is it exactly that D65 did not teach students who were physically present in the classroom?  Specifically, what programs or other curriculum element(s) resulted in some students not being taught?

        And why do you say that this Board is giddy about not educating all of Evanston's children?  Are you suggesting that his Board has some type of animus toward some students or group of students?

        I am sincere about these questions as it appears that you are trying to convey some ideas but I don't have the institutional knowledge of D65 that may be needed.  So please clarify. Thanks. 

        1. Observations over the years

          The test scores of minority and children living in poverty speak for themselves.  There has been a tremendous amount of progress on this front in recent years.  On the other hand, the majority of the current board members prefer to discuss at great length the excelerated math program (which affects a tiny percentage of students) and how to challenge those kids who are learning at grade level (again, an issue brought up by a handful of very vocal parents).   At the same time, some of the most vulnerable kids in our district, special education students, are now being included in general education activities.  Special education services are being "pushed into" the classrooms so that children do not miss class time.  Yet this board has done little more than try to slow down the inclusion process.  It is much easier to govern if you only consider the needs of the families just like yours.  This is what I have seen from these board members and sadly, this is what I expect in the future now that there is no voice for the other 50% of Evanston.  Fingers crossed that they prove me wrong. 

          1. I can’t believe that special education is being cited…

            … as one of Hardy Murphy's accomplishments.  As a special educator who has watched D65 handling of special ed from afar, I have been appalled at what I have considered to be unethical and illegal handling of children with special needs.  Several legal proceedings that have transired in the past few years would appear to agree with me.  And ask the parents of kids with IEPs  about their satisfaction with the way in which D65 has met their responsibilities to educate special education students, as defined by Federal law.

      2. This is not true…

        When Barb was in the district, there was no "child left behind" or crazy testing like we have today and as a person who knew her then, who also saw kids go through D65, I can say that she, along with other D65 administrators did teach all kids. They cared about all kids and teachers. They were true educators who dedicated their life to public education.

        Dr. Murphy was brought in and yes, change did happen, but that does not mean it was all positive.  I have several friends who work or have worked in central office. Ask them what it has been like for the last 13 years. You won't believe some of the things they will tell you about his leadership (or lack of it). It was time for Dr. Murphy to move on and I wish him well and I commend the board for their decision to part ways.

        Back in the "good old days" teachers and administrators had more respect for each other. They got along better with each other because it was not an "us against them policy"  Bringing Barb back will not bring back the "good old days." Times have changed, education has changed, the world has changed. But, what they will bring back is respect, collaboration and a real focus on doing what is best for all children. 

        Barb is retired yet is still active in the field of education. She has worked as a teacher, principal and district administrator. She knows how things should be run. She knows that the work ahead of her will be hard yet she is still up to the challenge to help us get back on track to where we should be.  We used to be the lighhouse district. We used to be leaders in change, but for the last decade, our light went out and we forgot to change the bulb. And by we, I mean everybody, teachers, staff, parents and community members.

        So let us all support the boards decision. They are doing the right thing by putting someone in place that will help us heal as a community so that when they start looking for our new superintendent, they will have a clear focus of what that is and the new person will be excited to work in the wonderful community we call home.

        Let's stay positive and welcome this change that some of us have been waiting for a long time. Support Barb and the board and if you have strong feelings about anything related to District 65, make yourself known and show up to a board meeting and offer your public comment. The board wants feedback from community members.

        1. Differing views

           "But, what they will bring back is respect, collaboration and a real focus on doing what is best for all children." Most people I know would not agree with this statement or description of how it was 15 years ago.  Before Dr. Murphy the failure rate of minority children was off the charts.  If I remember correctly, one of the first unpopular comments he made was something to the tune of "why are so many teachers rated exceptional when so many students are failing?".  I think most would agree that ignoring nearly 35% percent of a district's students was not really "best for all children".

        2. Why this decision makes me nervous

          The job of the school board is governance:  policy and finance.  The job of the administration is to run the schools.  Dr. Murphy, whatever you think of him, tried to maintain this distinction and to manage the schools in a way that he believed would meet the goals the Board had set.  That’s what got him in trouble.

          But the Board routinely intervened in the running of the schools based on what they were hearing from teachers or parents.  I think about the BMI kerfuffle.  Despite all evidence that BMI measurement made sense, the Board turned this into an issue based on the grumblings of a few teachers and a couple of parents.  This is not policy or governance; this is curriculum implementation, a management issue.

          As a taxpaying, non-parent, I feel completely voiceless with this Board.  They want to satisfy vocal parents and some unhappy teachers.  They are not thinking about how we can make this the best school district in Illinois, bar none.

          I think the selection of Ms. Hiller and Dr. Brown will continue to lead to a Board that wants to be popular, not excellent.  Excellence requires disappointing some, for the good of the many.  I think that this leadership team was selected so that the Board can continue to inject itself into school management.

          While I wish the best for Ms. Hiller and Dr. Brown, I have limited confidence in the  School Board.  It has a lot of agendas, none of which is mine.  Get me the best school for the most appropriate cost.  Make me confident that you are protecting the value of my principal asset, my home, by providng a desirable education for all kids.  Especially for the average kid.  Let them attend clean, comfortable and safe schools.  Where someone cares about them and their future.

        3. Not totally

          I have an amazing memory of Ms. Hiller assisting my oldest daughter transition from D65 to D202. Barbara took the time as Asst. Super to meet with my middle schooler personally in her office. Barb eased my baby's anxiety. Something I was unable to do. I will always be grateful.

          Let’s not forget, Hiller reported to Johnson, Hill or Murphy during her past tenure. I think it was prudent of her to follow the directives of her bosses, whichever one they may have been at the time.  Now that Ms. Hiller is not required to follow…  But instead lead; only the passage of time will allow us to evaluate her performance and that of Mary Brown. 

          I have 4 kids. In my opinion and speaking as an experienced parent with children who have matriculated through both 65 and 202, not all administrators, teachers, employees, parents, and community members care about ALL STUDENTS.
           

    3. Advisors for better quality

      Perhaps the academic quality of both districts would improve if they had an adviisory board [hopefully with some power and ability to publically publish their recommendations.

      Perhaps several from NU departments that cover STEM subjects as well as estabiished adademic areas like English literature, American and world history, academic languages [French, German, Russian, Latin].

      And these supplemented [if they don't also fit the category of] parents of children who have earned academic distinction at ETHS and colllege/post-college.  These parents should have seen what it takes to help students who have succeeded—-e.g. parents supplementing their education with museums, tutors, cultural activities; parents helping students with homework, i.e. showing them how to solve not solviing for them; limits on TV/games/school night activities; parents actually teaching children to cover gaps in their classes, more advanced material or subjects not covered at the school.

      While some students excel despite parents not willing or able to help, those parents would not have the insights of the type I'm talking about.  However the districts might consider having students who have excelled in Evanston schools and probably even better also at college, be an advisory Board themselves. 

      Unfortunately 'adults' don't pay attention to even 'excellent' students until they are in their 20s and probably have lost the "fire"/knowledge to know what they would have said a few years before.  Just as bad the school boards won't want advise from anyone like knowledgeable parents or students since it would take power from them or show them up.   Boards like to hire [$$$] consultants who confirm what they already believe/want.

  10. So excited!

    Congratulations to the board for finding the perfect fit!  Barb is amazing! She is a true educator and has dedicated her professional career to the students and families of the Evanston community. I can't wait to see all the positive energy she wil bring to both teachers and administrators. Best news D65 has seen in a very long time!!

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