IL Superintendent Summer Spotlight: Larry Lovel, CUSD #176

This summer, we will get to know more about our Equity First superintendents; many of whom are active in our FIF coalition. Advance Illinois’s Equity First coalition is an alliance of superintendents across Illinois that advocate for public policy that promotes equity in public education for students. The group gathers to discuss education policy and school community issues to help inform Advance Illinois’ education policy agenda and statewide policy broadly.

In this week’s blog we converse with Campbell Hill, Illinois superintendent Larry Lovel from Trico CUSD #176. 

Why did you go into the education field? 

I was inspired to pursue a career in education by both my parents, and past teachers, and coaches who made a significant impact on my life. 


How does EBF funding play a role in the success of the students you serve or the school district? 

EBF funding was a significant catalyst for positive change in our small rural school district. All new programs, positions, or course offerings are directly connected to the change in the way Illinois schools are funded. As a first year superintendent, I inherited a district with: deficit spending patterns, financial gaps created by years of state proration, a stagnant local economy, minimal growth in property values, and low morale. From my third year to present day, the district has resurrected past programs, added invaluable staff members, and has significantly increased learning opportunities for our students. EBF has had a tremendous and positive impact on our district, on our students, and on our community. 


Tell us about your school district. What are some accomplishments you want to highlight from your school district? What have been some of the challenges you’ve had or are addressing in your school district? 

Within the past seven years, our school district has made significant strides in the areas of student support services and course offerings. The district has added two full time English Language specialists and a bilingual aide to support our Spanish and K’iche speaking families. And within the past seven years, we have added the following full-time teaching positions K-12 Art, HS Industrial Arts, K-5 Intro to Technology, 6-8 interventionist, two additional teachers for kindergarten /first grade to reduce section sizes, a social worker at the elementary school, a junior high social worker, and an additional junior high Special Education teacher. All these positions were identified as a significant need based on student enrollment trends, student survey data, and parent survey data.  Lower than average teacher salaries, and rampant teacher shortages remain significant challenges for our district. Many of these newly added positions had to be created through grass roots or grow our own efforts at the local level. Without those efforts, many of these newly hired positions would have remained “wish list” items on our district’s long range strategic plan.  


What resources and supports can further benefit your school? Or what resources/supports have made a positive difference? 

Advocacy for EBF must continue and OUR voices must continue to be shared because there is STILL MUCH to be done and gains to be made. Additionally, legislators must continue to be made aware that many districts, like Trico, are just NOW providing the services and educational programs that it once did in the late 1990’s. We are on the right path; however, we are not where we need to be or could be …just yet. 


 Fun fact about yourself: 

I met my wife in college while working on a political campaign.