After two years of service to Evergreen Park Elementary School District 124, Superintendent Diane Cody announced Wednesday her plans to retire next year.
"I'm looking forward to being able to do more than just superintendent," Cody said. "I feel I should spend enough time with my family and my friends, and retirement would allow me to do that."
Having come to District 124 after six years as superintendent in the Winfield School District, Cody previously served as an assistant superintendent, principal, mathematics coordinator and teacher.
Under Cody's leadership, District 124 improved in areas involving technology and adhering to the needs of the community.
"... They created full-day kindergarten classes and enhanced technology through increased instructional time for students and improved infrastructure,” District 124 School Board of Education President Kathleen Rohan said in a news release Wednesday.
The district also used data to improve education, teaching and communication methods, through several community surveys that were available in print and online.
However, Cody's tenure in the district hasn't been particularly smooth. During her first year on the job, the global economic downturn began to hit local schools, forcing districts across the nation to make difficult decisions. The economy directly took its effect on District 124 when Cody had to lay off 22 staffers—19 of them full-time teachers.
"During these times, decisions must be made when the economy is stalled, state funding is in crisis, student achievement must be improved and enrollment is declining," former read from a district statement during the December board meeting. "(Our) decisions over the past year, while difficult, have been made in the best interest of the district and the students, given its limited resources available."
In December, , despite a "No Confidence" petition that was circulated from September to November, asking officials not to extend Cody's contract. With the signatures of about 1200 residents and parents who said they did not trust Cody, the petition was presented to the board during its Nov. 17 meeting. Cody's retirement, effective June 30, 2012, would shorten the contract, and leaves the board less than a year to find her replacement.
"We appreciate the early notice that Dr. Cody has given the district so that we will have adequate time to complete a thorough search," Rohan said. “The board will conduct a needs assessment, with input from staff and the community, in order to create a candidate profile before interviewing applicants."
According to Rohan, the board intends to make a decision in January and have the new superintendent start July 1, 2012. Cody said her last year on the job will be focused on implementing professional learning communities, a financial task force and enhancing district facilities.
She said the district would use professional learning communities to allow teachers and administrators to collaborate to address student needs. The proposed financial task force, to be comprised of various community members, would aim to first balance revenues with expenditures, then help the school rebound from difficult economic times, Cody said. Additionally, Cody said she will focus on "what needs to be done to get (our district facilities) up to speed."
"I am confident the next superintendent will continue the current momentum while focusing on continuous improvement,” Cody said.