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Former Oswego East principal Jeffrey Craig to get West Aurora superintendent post

Jeffrey Craig

Jeffrey Craig

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Updated: March 5, 2014 6:19AM

AURORA — West Aurora School Board members approved the appointment of an Iowa district leader and former Oswego East High School principal as West Aurora’s new superintendent Monday night.

Jeffrey W. Craig, 53, will take the reins as the district’s top official on July 1, replacing James Rydland, who has served as West Aurora’s superintendent since 2005.

Rydland announced last June that we would retire from his post this year, with three years left on his contract.

“Joining the District 129 team provides an opportunity to work with trusted colleagues, build and develop a leadership team, while continuing to improve upon the great work with students, staff and community partners,” Craig said in a district statement.

For the last year, Craig has been the superintendent at Interstate 35 Community School District, a three-school system based in Truro, Iowa, about 40 miles south of Des Moines.

Interstate 35 had 928 students enrolled last school year at one elementary school, one middle school and one high school, according to Iowa Department of Education data.

Students in the district were 93 percent white, 2 percent Hispanic and 2 percent black, according to state data. The district had a 97 percent graduation rate in school year 2011-12, the latest data available, which was above the state average of 89 percent.

Prior to working at Interstate 35, Craig worked for 11 years as a principal in three high schools, according to a West Aurora news release, which had larger enrollments and more diverse student bodies.

Craig served as principal at nearby Oswego East High School from 2008 to 2013. The school had an enrollment last year of 2,067 that was 53 percent white, 22 percent Hispanic, 13 percent black and 8 percent Asian, according to state data.

He previously served as principal at Rich East High School in south suburban Park Forest from 2004 to 2008. The school had an enrollment last year of 1,104 that was 85 percent black, 7 percent white and 4 percent Hispanic. Craig also served as principal at Central High School in Davenport, Iowa, which had an enrollment last year of 1,435 that was 56 percent white, 24 percent black and 12 percent Hispanic.

“Dr. Craig brings with him an outstanding background as a strong and dynamic leader who has demonstrated his commitment to improve student learning in a number of diverse environments,” West Aurora School Board President Neal Ormond said in a statement. “He has earned an impressive reputation for being visible and accessible to the communities he has served, as well as being an inspiring, positive advocate for students and staff alike.”

Craig holds a doctorate of education from the University of Illinois-Champaign, a master’s in administration and supervision from Loyola University Chicago and a bachelor’s in education-industrial arts from Northern Illinois University.

Craig also has served as a high school wrestling coach and as a member of state and national wrestling officials associations.

The district received 50 applicants for the position, according to a West Aurora news release.

West Aurora worked with an executive search firm to develop an ideal superintendent profile and to recruit candidates.

The search firm conducted focus groups, public forums and an online survey that found the West Aurora community wanted a superintendent with a high level of financial expertise and experience working in a large, diverse school system who could build partnerships.

The superintendent’s annual base salary will be $190,000.

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