By Jason King
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Friday, March 09, 2007
The Round Lake-area school district has chosen a new leader.
The board of education and school finance authority on Thursday approved the hiring of Ben Martindale to replace departed Chief Executive Officer Dennis Stonewall.
Martindale, who is the outgoing superintendent of Gurnee Elementary District 56, told both boards he looks forward to the challenges the district presents.
“I’m really excited about doing this, it’s a different chapter in my life,” he said. “I was here last week and was very impressed with the people I’ve met. We’re taking this school district to a place I think it very much deserves to be.”
We are at a very unique time in the history of Round Lake Area Schools — we just reached a multi-year deal with our teachers, our Magee project is moving along and ready to get started, we obtained financial recognition status and preliminary results indicate great increases in student achievement. Now we have a new leader, one with a proven track record of results and great experience in areas we continue to have difficulty with — building and facilities management, finances and special education. Most importantly, he is a superintendent and that’s the type of leadership the district earnestly needs at the top right now.
First, I have to thank the School Finance Authority (SFA) for allowing the Board of Education to participate in the selection process, in fact, our voices were heard equally. They didn’t have to do that, but they did.
Our relationship with the SFA has improved by leaps and bounds in just a few months and much of that is due to the leadership of Doug Parks, our current SFA chairman. Under his leadership the SFA and BOE have had the opportunity to work more closely. In fact, this process of hiring a new CEO has allowed me to get to know members of the SFA much better than I ever did. We spoke with one voice in naming Ben Martindale our new superintendent but that was by mutual agreement and trust me, we had some brilliant candidates and this was a very difficult decision. In the end though Dr. Martindale looked to be the best fit for what the district needs right now: he has a long history in Lake County; he spent many years at SEDOL and is well-versed in Special Education; he faced many unique challenges with buildings and changing student enrollment in Gurnee Elementary 56. In my opinion, he’s definitely the right man for the job.
The bleeding in the district caused by the near catastrophic financial meltdown has been stopped — now is the time to focus on student achievement while maintaining our fiscal discipline. I look forward to working with Dr. Martindale to achieve those goals and start delivering the world-class education that we promise the kids of Round Lake.