OSD308 superintendent to retire at end of school year; board members discuss search for successor

Oswego School District 308 Superintendent Dr. John Sparlin participated in a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion workshop for teachers, administrators and students at Oswego East High School on March 4.


Oswego School District 308 Superintendent John Sparlin will retire at the end of the current school year.

Sparlin announced his pending departure from the school district during a school board meeting Monday evening, Jan. 9, at Oswego East High School.

At the meeting, Sparlin thanked the current and previous boards for the opportunity to serve the students, staff and school district community.

“It has been my greatest honor to serve as your superintendent for the last seven years, and I thank the board for that opportunity,” Sparlin said.

Sparlin has served as the district’s top administrator since his promotion to superintendent in 2016 upon the departure of Matthew Wendt.

Sparlin joined the district in 2012 as the executive director for administrative services. He was promoted to assistant superintendent for administrative services in 2013.

“I look forward to continuing our good work together from now through June 30,” Sparlin said, “and to support the board in any way I can as you search for my successor.”

“Thank you for 11 years of service through one of the darkest times in education,” board member Jennifer Johnson told Sparlin during Monday’s meeting.

Johnson said while they often disagreed, Sparlin proved to her that people can have conversations about important topics and disagree while still respecting the opposing side.

“Thank you for allowing me to have the space to completely disagree with you, but continually address me with kindness and treat me with respect,” Johnson said. “It is not always easy to be in your position and to remain calm, and you have done it many times.”

Board President Latonya Simelton thanked Sparlin and said she looks forward to the next few months of working together.

Simelton said the traditional way for the board to go about hiring a new superintendent would be to hire a search firm that would cost the district between $25,000 and $40,000.

In seeking a new superintendent, Simelton said they will look for a leader to take the district forward in a transformational way.

Board member Jared Ploger thanked Sparlin and emphasized the importance of the community’s support for the new superintendent and the search process.

“I do not think a superintendent should be picked before this election is over,” Ploger said. “The superintendent, whoever comes in, should have the support of whoever the seven people are who sit up here.”

The school board election is April 4.

Board member Dominick Cirone voiced his support for hiring a search firm, saying it makes the most sense.

Board member Alison Swanson said she would like to pursue outside candidates for the role.

“I don’t think we have an internal candidate who is going to meet the needs that we have right now,” Swanson said.

Board member Eugene Gatewood agreed that a search firm was the right method, adding that it would give them objectivity and provide a wider scope of candidates.

Sparlin had served multiple school districts in Illinois before coming to OSD308 a decade ago.

Sparlin began his career in the Valley View School District 365U as a teacher and coach. He then served in the Glenbard School District 87 as a teacher and coach before beginning his administrative career as dean of students.

Sparlin served as assistant principal of curriculum and instruction at Bolingbrook High School, principal of Humphrey Middle School, principal of Romeoville High School and executive director of human resources for the J. Sterling Morton High School District 201.

Sparlin earned his undergraduate degree from Eastern Illinois University and a master’s degree in education from Benedictine University. He received his certificate of advanced study, Type 75 Certification and a doctorate of education administration in educational leadership and supervision from Lewis University.

Sparlin’s contract with the district does not expire until June 30, 2024, and he did not respond to questions about his retirement decision at the meeting.

A Jan. 10 news release from the district said, “Dr. Sparlin indicated that he will continue working in some capacity of education, but in a role that will allow for him to have more time with his family.”

Sparlin said in the release, “Leading a district with 23 schools serving over 17,000 students is oftentimes a 24/7 commitment, one which I have sincerely enjoyed for many years. Working in 308 for the past 11 years and serving as your superintendent for the past seven years has been the greatest honor of my career.”