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School Board Approves New Superintendent

posted May 20, 2014, 7:12 AM by msutfin@dist46.org   [ updated Aug 11, 2014, 10:51 AM by Web Master ]

Prairie Grove School District #46 Board Approves New Superintendent

At a Special Board Meeting Monday night, the Prairie Grove Board of Education unanimously approved a three-year contract for Dr. Phil Bender to become their next Superintendent.  Dr. Bender is currently Superintendent for District #64 in Park Ridge/Niles, Illinois.  Prior to that, Dr. Bender was a Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Principal and Elementary Teacher in Indiana.  He spent over 20 years as a classroom teacher.

 Board members noted his broad experience, collaborative leadership style and demonstrated track record with similar issues to those facing their school district in the future, as key to Dr. Bender becoming the successful candidate.

 Board member Laura Barker noted: “Dr. Bender is bringing a wealth of experience from which our children, staff and community members will all benefit.  His knowledge and resourcefulness, partnered with his firm, fair and compassionate leadership style will allow growth, while maintaining balance for all.”

Board President, Margaret Ponga added: “Dr. Bender is a fantastic person!  We could immediately see his passion is the kids.  There’s no doubt his positive energy will be contagious!”

Board member Tara Rand noted that “He is all about the kids and will be a great fit for our school district.”

Key accomplishments in his recent superintendency include strengthening student achievement through implementing programs such as Project Lead the Way and STEM programs,  strong fiscal management, improving labor relations with teachers, upgrading facilities, shepherding a one to one technology initiative for students, and improving articulation between his elementary district and the high school district, Maine Township High School District #207.

Dr. Bender received numerous accolades from those who have worked with him in the past.  Board and Teachers’ Association leaders alike describe Dr. Bender as an accessible, collaborative, ethical leader who uses a common sense approach to solve school issues and problems.  One common thread from the interview process and past colleagues is the fact that Dr. Bender’s leadership style is his relentlessly focused on “putting kids first.”

Search consultants Drs. Brad and Jill Hawk conducted the search on behalf of School Exec Connect.  The process included feedback from staff, administration and community members, as well as extensive interviews with committees and of course, the School Board.

Dr. Bender will begin his service to District 46 on July 1, 2014 at a salary of $170,000.


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