The journey to becoming Brookfield Local School District’s new superintendent was a bumpy one for Toby Gibson, and the special meeting called Wednesday, June 12, to make it official wasn’t without discord. Yet, in the end, Gibson was the unanimous choice of all five board members.
Gibson was hired with a three-year, 260-days-per-year contract effective Aug. 1 and running through July 31, 2022. His starting salary is $88,000, which is $2,000 less than his predecessor, Velina Jo Taylor, received when she was hired in 2016.
After the vote, Board President Ronda Bonekovic lightheartedly asked Gibson “Are you sure you want to do this?”
“I am,” Gibson answered.
Gibson was among 26 people who applied for the position of superintendent after Taylor accepted a position with Lakeview School District in March. Gibson made the cut to the first round of interviews, but was not chosen for the final interviews.
Community outcry was swift, with a petition drive and rally on the green in Brookfield Center in May asking for the board to reconsider. A week later, the board announced that it had been unable to reach a unanimous decision for either of their final candidates, and started over, interviewing Gibson and Adam Lewis, the district’s high school principal, who also had been among the initial applicants for the position.
In the Wednesday night meeting, Lewis was named to the newly created position of director of teaching, learning and accountability.
The meeting also was clouded by the resignation of the school district’s technology supervisor, Jason Russo, who proffered his letter to the board prior to the vote on Gibson, and another vote to approve a shared services technology contract with Madison Local School District.
“It has been a wild ride, yes, and, to be honest with you, I don’t think I would change anything,” the 46-year-old Gibson said. “I think a positive out of all this is, honestly, the fact that you have people in the community excited about their district again and focused on education and the school. I think anytime you can get a community to support or be involved in a district, and that enthusiasm, great things can happen, and I look forward to capitalizing and working with that enthusiasm.”
The lifelong resident of Brookfield, who graduated from Brookfield and has spent the last 20 years in the district as a teacher and principal of both the elementary and middle schools, said his family – wife, Christy, and children — are “excited” about his new job.
“We take it one day at a time,” said Gibson, noting lessons learned by him and his family during his years helping coach football will come into play now, too.
“You roll with the punches,” he said. “Things are great when you are winning, and they get rough when you’re losing.”
“I’m in this for the long haul. There’s gonna be bumps in the road, but as long as you take your time and make decisions, and you can keep the district and kids in mind when you’re making those decisions, I think we’re gonna keep moving in the right direction.”
As he stood before the audience of about two dozen gathered in the school library for the meeting shortly after his contract was approved, Gibson said “I’m excited about this opportunity. Being a graduate, and a lifelong resident, it is a dream come true for me.”
Gibson also said he has “big dreams” for his new job.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to see those dreams come to fruition,” he said. “I look forward to the challenges facing us, and I’m excited to work with great students, a great staff and a great commuinty. I honestly believe that together we can accomplish just about anything.”