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Richmond superintendent retiring

Jan. 30, 2013

The Richmond District School Board is moving forward in its search for a replacement for retiring Superintendent George Zimmer, with hopes to have narrowed down the search to three candidates before the School Board election April 2.

There was a sense of urgency at the board's special meeting Tuesday night, where a timetable was set for the interviewing and profiling process.

"It seems to me that we want somebody on board as quickly as reasonably can be done, so that we remain a competitive district," said Board Treasurer Eric Christianson.

Gerald Freitag with search firm School Exec Connect said he has already spoken to a few possible candidates who expressed interest in the position.

The board will begin collecting input from parents, faculty and community members Feb. 11. A survey will be made available on the school's website, the data from which will be compiled Feb. 25. School Exec Connect will then begin a national search for candidates, advertising in trade magazines and online. Under the board's timeline, about eight to 12 candidates are expected to be presented to the board March 25, and candidates will be interviewed between March 25 and April 9. The three finalists will be selected by April 9 at the latest, and a final decision is expected by April 19.

The board has invited candidates seeking election to the School Board in the February 19 primary to be involved in the process, but they will not be able to vote on the final decision.

School Board President Ken Skarie warned faculty and board members that the candidate will likely be paid as much as, if not more than, Zimmer, despite the possibility that they will have less experience. Zimmer's salary is for $133,712 in 2012.

"We got a really good deal with George," he said.

Skarie said Zimmer's shoes will be tough to fill.

"George is extremely experienced," he said. "He has done a good job of moving us forward on the educational side. He has a wealth of experience in curriculum, early child research and he has done a great job financially."

Zimmer, 61, has been the superintendent of the Richmond School District since 2005, previously serving as superintendent in the Nippersink School District 2 in Richmond, Ill. He told the Lake Country Reporter last September that he chose to pursue education as a career because he thought of it as a "noble calling."

"Thirty-nine years later, I believe that children need quality educators perhaps more than any time in our history and I am excited to be an educator today that when I started," he said at the time.

He said his favorite part of the job was working with teachers, parents and board of education members to improve the quality of learning in the district.

He declined to comment this week about his retirement.

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