Dr. Mary Brown, left, will serve as Interim Superintendent and Barbara Hiller will be Chief Administrative Officer.                                                

Updated 8/28/13. For this school year, the top administrators at School District 65 will be new to their posts but familiar to many in the community: retired Nichols School principal and Assistant Superintendent Barbara Hiller and District Business Manager and School Treasurer Dr. Mary Brown.

At a special School Board meeting on Aug. 23, the Board members present unanimously approved those appointments. Ms. Hiller will as serve as the District’s chief administrative officer for the coming school year, while the School Board conducts a search for a permanent superintendent to replace Dr. Hardy Murphy, who after 13 years as superintendent abruptly resigned on Aug. 9 to pursue consulting opportunities.

Dr. Brown will perform the duties that under Illinois law are required to be handled by a state-endorsed superintendent. Her title for this school year will be Interim Superintendent, but she will also continue in her present role. 

In announcing the appointments School Board President Tracy Quattrocki said, “We are so fortunate that Barb Hiller has agreed to serve as our chief administrative officer.  She has spent almost 30 years of her professional career in District 65, working as a teacher, mathematics curriculum coordinator, principal of Nichols Middle School and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction.  Because of her long history with the District, she knows many of the faculty and staff with whom she will be working, and her experience will be invaluable to the day-to-day operational management of our schools.”

In a separate interview, Ms. Hiller told the RoundTable, “I’m as excited today as I was when I first stepped into a classroom 30 years ago. And that’s what education should be – we can bring excitement back to the District.”

Ms. Hiller will have overall responsibilities for administrative, educational and operational matters in the District.  Since her retirement from District 65 in 2005, she has worked as an administrator coach for the Consortium for Educational Change (CEC).  CEC is affiliated with the Illinois Education Association, an organization that collaborates with teachers, school and district administrators, school boards and unions to improve student learning and achievement. In her role at CEC, Ms. Hiller has been actively engaged with K-8 instructional and curriculum changes at the state level.

“The Board was in full agreement about this transition team,” said Ms. Quattrocki, “and I’d like to offer some context for our decision.  We used four criteria in making our decision. First, we wanted to appoint someone who was not interested in the position of permanent superintendent.  We felt that having an interim Superintendent who might seek the job permanently would compromise our search this fall.

“Second, we did not want to move any of our administrators or principals into the position and create a hole in our District leadership team.  We are very confident in how well-run our District is, and we didn’t want to disrupt the opening of schools. Third, we didn’t want to incur any additional administrative costs for the year, and in having Ms. Hiller and Dr. Brown share these responsibilities, we will remain cost-neutral. Finally, we wanted to bring someone in who knows this District well, and Ms. Hiller certainly fits this requirement.”

Finally, Ms. Quattrocki said, “We are confident that with these choices our schools will run smoothly throughout the year, and that the Board can turn its attention to the very important task of starting the search for a permanent superintendent,” said Ms. Quattrocki.

“I care very much about this District,” said Ms. Hiller. “And because I have worked with many of the people in District 65, I know first-hand that with the support of the teachers and staff, principals and central office administrators, together we will make sure that the Evanston/Skokie school community has a smooth transition this year.

“There is a strong teaching staff. There is a strong administrative staff. I hope the community feels like there is a partnership.  I’m looking forward to a wonderful year.”

In a separate interview, Ms. Hiller told the RoundTable, “I’m as excited today as I was when I first stepped into a classroom 30 years ago. And that’s what education should be – we can bring excitement back to the District.”

Ms. Hiller began her new position with the District on Aug. 26, the first day of school for District 65 students.   The Board plans to begin next month the process of identifying a permanent superintendent to be hired for the 2014-15 school year.