Dr. Thompson has raised test scores, lowered debt and instituted major program changes in his three years as superintendent in District 205. But now he's considering leaving for a similar post in Naples, Florida. Many parents are worried losing him would disrupt their children's education, especially as we prepare to transition from school choice to attendance zones this fall.
"He was so determined to have the school zones and then he's gonna leave, so who's gonna push that through and make sure it stays that way?" says Rockford schools mother, Kathryn Mahnke.
The Collier County school district Naples falls under fired its current superintendent Ray Baker last night and then voted to fly Thompson out to interview for the post. Thompson is out of town right now, but school board members held a closed door meeting Wednesday night to talk about the likelihood of his bowing out, and how they'll carry on if he does.
"If he goes, he goes. We stay, so we will make the progress. If he goes it'll disrupt his moving van, that's all it'll disrupt. We're gonna go on," says school board member Robert Evans.
With the start of the school year bearing down quickly, going on means having a potential replacement on hand.
"Right now, what we'll be doing is just looking for someone to fill in temporarily, and perhaps longer than that. But we need somebody now to step in," says board member Alice Saudargus.
The school board recently gave Thompson a three percent raise, bringing his salary to around $200,000, and extended his contract until 2009. But board members say, because of the nature of his contract, they can't do anything to stop him if he wants to go.
Meanwhile, legal troubles are an issue in the Naples district Thompson would take over. Their fired superintendent says he plans to sue for illegal breach of contract. The board did not give him 14 days notice and hold discussion at a public school board meeting before firing him.
Rockford school board members will hold another meeting next Tuesday night to continue these talks. They expect to speak with potential interim superintendent candidates at that meeting.