D97 superintendent Carol Kelley finalist for Wisconsin supt. job

Kelley one of two finalists for top job at Madison Metropolitan School District

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

District 97 Supt. Carol Kelley is one of two finalists for the permanent superintendent position at Madison Metropolitan School District in Madison, Wis., according to a June 25 report by the Capital Times, a Wisconsinite online news site. District 97 officials have also confirmed that Kelley is a finalist for the job.  

According to the outlet's report, Kelley is one of 33 applicants who applied for the position some two-and-a-half months after another candidate from Texas declined to accept the position after deciding "to remain in his district to help deal with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic," the digital publication notes. 

The Cap Times adds that the Wisconsin school district released a statement explaining its plans for engagement sessions with staff and students, "as part of a 'Virtual Day in the District,' which will include an online opportunity to get to know each candidate, ask questions and provide feedback that will aid in the board's final decision.'" 

Kelley has been superintendent at District 97 for five years. She came to Oak Park schools after serving as a superintendent in New Jersey for three years. 

When reached for comment on Thursday night, District 97 Director of Communications Amanda Siegfried said that the district is aware of Kelley's candidacy for the Wisconsin position, but remains focused on the work ahead. 

"We are aware that Dr. Kelley is a finalist for the superintendent position in Madison Metropolitan School District," Siegfried said.  

"District 97 will have no further comment until Madison completes its search process and selects its next superintendent. Our administration and transition planning team remain focused on the important work ahead as we prepare for the 2020-21 school year in Oak Park."

 This is a developing story. 

Email: michael@oakpark.com

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Reader Comments

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Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: June 30th, 2020 10:01 AM

Why is anyone surprised that this person is looking for a better job with better pay. Madison is awesome and she has had a great career, so if she can do it, it is the best move for her family. Oak Park is a great place to come in, experiment with some trendy ideas in schooling, and move on to the next gig. I am glad that my kids are older now and not part of someone else's social experiment, but this is what you get with the D97 board we have. Constant rotation of staff as they leave to escape the madness or to cash in elsewhere.

Rob Ruffulo  

Posted: June 30th, 2020 6:00 AM

Jason Cohen, Red the Crime Section.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: June 29th, 2020 5:16 PM

@Kevin, I agree with you on this. There should be financial value received for staying. In typical companies you can earn equity but that comes with vesting and other steps to get the full amount. I stand by my point that there will be those that leave because there are better opportunities but that shouldn't mean you get as much in future years once you decide to leave.

Kevin Peppard  

Posted: June 29th, 2020 4:31 PM

What allows this revolving door to operate is the portability between states of administrative pensions. Shen can transfer her Illinois credits to Wisconsin. Only the State legislature can stop that. If she had to surrender those it would be a very costly move. We need stability in our approach to education and only the State can fix that. Now there is no incentive to stay.

Jim Frenkel  

Posted: June 29th, 2020 8:45 AM

One more thing - this is not a "one off" event. It's a pattern, and a disturbing one at that.

Jim Frenkel  

Posted: June 29th, 2020 8:43 AM

@ Jason continues his pattern of ad hominem responses to arguments that he doesn't like. Who said anything about hating OP?! That said, the point that is being made is NOT that the offers aren't attractive. On the contrary, we're arguing that it's a very logical response if the $$ is better relative to the complexity of the job. Who WOULDN'T make that choice? The answer, many of us would argue, is someone who has a long tenured, demonstrated commitment to the core values of OP, understands how tough the job is, and has the skills and chops to stick around. Creating lasting change is something that takes YEARS, and will often mean temporary setbacks and even backward motion along the way. But progress can occur--just not as likely when a new regime comes along every 3-5 years, or less.

Meg Reynolds  

Posted: June 28th, 2020 8:57 AM

Too bad! I hope she stays. If not, maybe Felicia Starks Turner could take over the job?

Jason Cohen  

Posted: June 26th, 2020 6:51 PM

It's hilarious that people act as if this is Oak Park's fault. Did people actually read this?? This is a pretty impressive promotion. It's hardly someone running out the door in a hurry. It must be hard to live in a town some of you hate so much.

Jim Frenkel  

Posted: June 26th, 2020 8:26 AM

Totally agree with Mr. Koenig. Objectively speaking, the turnover at the administrator level is troubling across the board, and not just because of the morale issues that stem from frequent transitions. Wouldn't it make sense to hire people with a sustained track record and demonstrated commitment to the OP and RF communities vs. outsiders who promise to parachute in and fix everything, only to leave a short time afterwards for more lucrative (and some might argue easier) opportunities?

Rob Ruffulo  

Posted: June 26th, 2020 8:07 AM

Line forming to get out of Oak Park

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: June 26th, 2020 7:26 AM

I could be wrong, but I've never heard of three years and five years being enough to be vested in any state's pension program. Perhaps someone who knows what they're talking about can clarify this? That said, Joe K. brings up a key point. It would really help if the district could figure out ways to foster greater continuity and loyalty.

Joe Koenig from Oak Park  

Posted: June 25th, 2020 11:41 PM

When will D97's board learn that the superintendents and principals that they are hiring are using Oak Park as a springboard to more money with other districts? We have incredible people working in our schools. Hire some of these loyal people who know the community and our children, and they will stay 20 years instead of 5. When was the last time we had a superintendent or a principal hired from within D97 who had spent their career with the district? Stop hiring people who only care about themselves and the size of their salary.

Jenna Brown Russell  

Posted: June 25th, 2020 10:41 PM

The article indicates that our D97 communications director knew that Dr Kelley would be publicly introduced as a finalist in a more transparent School District. Is protecting opacity in ours the job description? Dr Kelley is not wrong to go for the triple superintendent state pension dip, ala Dr. Roberts. We get what we incent.

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