Just seven weeks after outgoing Barrington 220 school superintendent Dr. Tom Leonard announced his upcoming departure, in a special meeting today the Board of Education named Dr. Brian Harris as the district’s new superintendent. Dr. Harris, former Barrington Middle School – Station Campus assistant principal, formally resigned from his role with Community Unit School District 200 in Wheaton-Warrenville this afternoon where he has been serving as superintendent since 2010.
Dr. Harris’ first day on the new job is this Friday, BHS graduation day, when he will begin serving as deputy superintendent. Dr. Leonard’s last day with the district before he leaves to become superintendent of the Eanes district in Austin, TX, will be on June 29th and Dr. Harris will step up as Barrington 220’s superintendent on July 1st.
With a son and daughter who are both students at the University of Illinois, Dr. Harris currently resides in the same St. Charles home where he lived when he served as Station’s assistant principal from 1993 to 1998.
For now, he plans to commute to Barrington and says he fully understands the community’s expectations for Dr. Leonard’s successor.
“There is an expectation to provide the highest quality of education for students from Pre-K all the way through seniors in high school. The community has shown that their commitment is second-to-none in many ways, not only with tax dollar support but also with all of the additional support from the Barrington 220 Educational Foundation, the PTOs, booster organizations and partnerships with the business community. I’m excited about the priority that the Barrington 220 community puts on public education.”
And Dr. Harris expressed that same enthusiasm today, before the Board.
During today’s meeting Dr. Leonard said he has worked with our incoming superintendent on a number of state and regional initiatives, including time spent tackling some “thorny legislative issues” in Springfield. Based on that long-standing relationship, he says Dr. Harris is the right fit for the job.
“Because I think, when you’re dealing with Barrington, you’re dealing with a complex community where there are a lot of different stakeholders. I’ve known Brian in a lot of ways. I’ve known him as a superintendent and as an educator. I know his ethics and I’m thrilled because I think it’s a great match. He’s a good man.”
Board president Brian Battle was equally complimentary.
“I think the community will find that interacting with Dr. Harris is energizing. He’s committed to high quality education. He’s committed to innovation in the classroom. He’s committed to continuing down the path we’re on in terms of finding ways to creatively incorporate instructional technology and a lot of other state requirements so I think, in some ways, it’ll be a very seamless transition.”
Brian Battle also says he applauds the Board for working rigorously to find Dr. Leonard’s replacement, avoiding the possibility of having an interim superintendent.
They conducted confidential interviews with over a dozen candidates since April 8th, when Dr. Leonard announced he’d accepted the job in Austin.
“With a high quality candidate like Dr. Harris, it became pretty clear to the Board that the preferred path really would be to do this now. This way, Dr. Harris will have the summer to get to know the staff a little bit better and hopefully, on the first day of school, we’ll be able to hit the ground running.”
In a statement announcing Dr. Harris’ resignation today, Community Unit School District 200 in Wheaton-Warrenville noted some of the highlights of his achievements within their district including:
Overhauling the technology infrastructure, paving the way for digital learning
Achieving financial stability for the district by implementing a fund balance policy
Engaging the community with new electronic communications
Dr. Harris’ five-year contract in Barrington 220 begins with a base salary of $260,000, which is comparable to the terms of Dr. Leonard’s current compensation. The Barrington 220 Board of Education also approved salaries related to 11 multi-year district administrator contracts today, including a new 5-year contract for Dr. Jeff Arnett, who is being promoted from his role as Chief Communications Officer to Assistant Superintendent for Innovation and Community Outreach.
The board also approved a 3-year contract extension for teachers today, “laying stability and continuity as a foundation for the transition between Barrington 220 superintendents”. Members of the Barrington Education Association (BEA) ratified the agreement earlier this week, which now maintains the contract through 2018.
If you’d like to meet new Barrington 220 schools superintendent Dr. Brian Harris or say goodbye to Dr. Leonard, the Board of Education is planning several upcoming events. And Dr. Harris says he looks forward to getting to know the community while attending three events tomorrow for BHS 2014 graduates, Barrington 220 staff and community leaders eager to get acquainted with our school district’s new leader.