Education

Metro-east’s largest school district hires a new superintendent

Edwardsville school district hopes to make class sizes smaller

Edwardsville School District 7 plans to use money from the recent property tax increase to make improvements to academics and security and to pay down debt.
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Edwardsville School District 7 plans to use money from the recent property tax increase to make improvements to academics and security and to pay down debt.

The largest school district in the metro-east has picked its next superintendent.

Jason Henderson will replace Edwardsville District 7 Superintendent Lynda Andre when she retires at the end of the academic year.

The District 7 school board approved a contract with Henderson at its meeting Thursday night. He takes over July 1.

When he moves into his new position, District 7 will be at the halfway point in its four-year plan to replace outdated textbooks and failing security systems and pay down debt with money from a property tax increase that voters approved in 2017. The referendum was known locally as Proposition E.

Henderson, 46, said he wants to make sure the district keeps those promises made to taxpayers.

He has worked for the last 25 years in nearby Triad Unit 2 as a high school math teacher, tennis coach, principal, curriculum director and, mostly recently, assistant superintendent.

The Edwardsville district, which is comprised of 13 schools, has almost twice as many students as Triad. Enrollment there was more than 7,500 in 2018, according to the most recent state data, making it the biggest district in Madison, St. Clair, Monroe, Clinton or Randolph counties.

Edwardsville students have also consistently surpassed statewide averages on their assessments from Illinois each year.

Jason Henderson copy.jpg
Jason Henderson Triad Unit 2 Provided

Henderson said he felt lucky to be chosen from the applicants considered for the superintendent position. “I’m always interested in a challenge, and Edwardsville is one of the premier districts in the area,” he said.

The interview process involved sitting down a group of community members, so Henderson said he feels like he has the support of the board and the residents as he prepares to move into the district office.

“I think that’s great,” he said of the community’s involvement in the process. “Especially with Prop E passing. They ask a lot of their community. Because of that, I think the community should be able to weigh in.”

Henderson has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois, a master’s degree from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and a specialist degree from U of I in Springfield. And in May, he will earn his doctorate degree from SIUE.

As the district’s next leader, Henderson’s salary will be $150,000 under his three-year contract, according to Andre.

She will retire June 30 after at least 28 years in Edwardsville District 7, including four as superintendent.

Henderson said he’s excited to get started, knowing he won’t have to say goodbye to the Troy district where he’s spent his career.

“Right now, it really is mixed emotions for me. I’ve got a lot of close relationships here in the Triad district,” he said. “The good news is they’re next-door neighbors.”

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The metro-east is home for investigative reporter Lexi Cortes. She was raised in Granite City, went to school in Edwardsville and now lives in Collinsville. Lexi has worked at the Belleville News-Democrat since 2014, winning multiple state awards for her investigative and community service reporting.
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