Superintendent to leave District 70 when contract expires at end of school year
The top administrator at Libertyville Elementary District 70 will not be seeking a contract extension when his three-year contract expires.
"After much reflection, I am withdrawing my request for the school board to consider extending my contract beyond June 30, 2022," said Superintendent Matt Barbini. He informed families and staff in a message Friday and read the same statement at the school board meeting Monday night.
"I am doing so to pursue professional opportunities outside of District 70," he added. Barbini did not elaborate Monday.
In the message, Barbini said he would continue working hard during his remaining time. The announcement will allow the school board to focus on recruiting and selecting the next superintendent, he added.
At Monday's meeting, school board President Wendy Schilling said the board looks forward to working with Barbini for the rest of the year.
"You have impacted our district in several ways through a number of initiatives that will be your legacy," such as blended preschool, advocating for additional interventional resources and long-range facility, financial and technology planning among many others, Schilling said.
"Your continued dedication has been to the children of District 70," she added. "For that we are honored to have worked with you and we thank you for putting the children first."
Plans to select a replacement will be discussed in coming weeks, according to Schilling.
Whether Barbini's announcement came as a surprise was not immediately known. However, longevity in the top administrative spot has been a hallmark at District 70,
Barbini was only the third District 70 superintendent in 27 years when he started July 1, 2019. He had been deputy superintendent of schools for Palatine Township Elementary District 15, before being unanimously hired in District 70 after a search that lasted more than a year.
As in other districts, community emotions were high on both sides of the debate regarding in-person learning as the coronavirus took hold. Despite being given authority by the board, Barbini took hits from some who disagreed with policies and practices to deal with the pandemic.
The debate became especially heated just before the start of the 2021-22 school year, when the district reversed its stance regarding masks in schools following a state mandate requiring them.
The situation prompted a lengthy statement from Schilling in early August. She said no matter what decision was made, it was understood some groups or individuals would be unhappy with the board's or Barbini's response to the COVID-19 crisis and mask mandate.
"What we collectively did not expect was the hateful and mean-spirited responses we all received," she said at the time in a lengthy statement.
Some of the messages accused Barbini of crimes against children and included other "untruths" and "nonsensical allegations" that wouldn't be responded to, Schilling said.