News Local/State

New Danville Superintendent On Dress Code, Getting Feet Wet

New Danville schools superintendent Alicia Geddis

New Danville District 118 superintendent Alicia Geddis, who starts July 1. (Danville District 118)

Danville’s next school superintendent doesn't officially start on the job until July, but Alicia Geddis says she’s already well-versed in some of District 118’s new policies.

That includes a uniform school dress rule, which Danville implemented last fall.  Geddis currently serves as deputy superintendent of Dolton School District 149 in Calumet City, which adopted school uniforms more than a decade ago.

Geddis said the plan was started there for many of the same reasons Danville Schools passed its dress policy.

"We do think (about) distractions and bridging socio-economic differences," she said.  "It really helped us.  We also have the issue of gangs, so it eliminated the ability to identify with gang colors, so for a number of reasons, we embraced it.  It has been very successful.  Our parents have embraced it, because it just elimated the drama of the shoes that are in fashion, and the latest and the greatest that the children want to have.  It elimated the need for that to become an issue when going back to school, so it has worked very well for us at 149."

Geddis said her current district is exploring a shift to a year-round, balanced calendar, an idea also being explored in Danville.  She said she’s looking forward to working with all of her new colleagues, and is not upset that one member of the District 118 school board advocated for an internal candidate over her.

She won the support of six of the seven board members when she was hired last month.  But one member, Steve Bragorgos, told the News-Gazette that Danville Associate Superintendent Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat was more qualified.

Geddis said she appreciates Bragorgos’ passion, and looks forward to reaching out to her fellow administrator.

“You have to understand that," she said.  "She’s done a great job, I think we’ll make a great team – and so I look forward to working with her, and embracing the whole concepts that she’s already set foot.  There should be no problem.”

Between now and July, Geddis expects to spend time in Danville learning from retiring Superintendent Mark Denman, calling him a ‘wealth of information’ after more than 40 years at the district.

Geddis is a native of Long Island, New York, but has spent time in East Central Illinois before, earning a doctorate in educational policy from the University of Illinois in 2012.

Geddis will earn $180-thousand dollars in her first year at District 118, and starts her new job on July 1st.