A performance review for the superintendent of District 209 will be conducted by the board of education this month, roughly 10 months into Stan Fields’ tenure. For a district that has been rocked by inconsistent and inept leadership, this evaluation could serve as another flashpoint in what has become a politically charged saga at Proviso Township high schools.
The extent to which political shenanigans have interfered with the district’s operations is not lost on Fields, who said that the day he was hired brought him one day closer to being fired. With that in mind, Fields said he has tried to be aggressive in making changes to the district’s operations and pointed to a decrease of more than 50 percent in the projected year-end deficit as evidence of his success.
“You try and get as much done as you can before they turn on you,” Fields said.
The superintendent’s evaluation is scheduled to take place at a public meeting on June 18 at Proviso East High School.
Fields is the first full-time superintendent the district has had since the controversial firing of Greg Jackson in August of 2005. Jackson was dismissed by a 4-3 vote just nine months after the board approved a contract extension that would have kept Jackson at the helm through 2009. Immediately prior to bringing Fields on board Robert Libka served as an interim administrator, and has since been demoted for spending public funds to obtain his superintendent’s certification. Libka announced his resignation earlier this year and will leave Proviso at the end of the month.
Fields acknowledged the timing of his performance review is somewhat unusual and was likely delayed by the board’s focus on election campaigns that wrapped up in April.
Three seats on the board changed hands as a result of that election, however, two of Fields’ staunchest opponents on the board remain. Charles Flowers and Theresa Kelly have been critical of the superintendent’s performance thus far and voted against hiring him in August of 2006.
Also as a result of the election, only two of the four members who voted to hire Fields still hold positions on the board. Phone calls to the four senior board members seeking comment on the upcoming evaluation were not returned.
The superintendent said he plans to give a formal presentation to the board on the progress made in District 209 since his hire, and will “listen with sincerity” to the feedback he receives. That is not to say, however, that political noise will go unfiltered.
“If I’m convinced you’re trying to help me, there’s nothing you could say to hurt my feelings,” Fields said. “If you question someone’s motives, political or otherwise, there’s probably not much value you place in their criticisms.”