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At the Sept. 10 District 65 School Board meeting, Board members concurred, at least preliminarily, on a general process to follow in the search for a new superintendent. The process includes soliciting the community’s views on the qualities and characteristics of a new superintendent, as well as views to articulate a vision for the District that may help guide the search process. Community members may also have the opportunity to meet the candidates at a forum or other setting. Ultimately, School Board members will interview the candidates in closed session and make the selection.

Board President Tracy Quattrocki said she had an extensive conversation with Barbara Toney, a field representative of the Illinois Association of School Boards. “She will meet with us on Oct. 2 to do a Board self-evaluation to get us all on the same page about how we’ll move forward to do the search,” Ms. Quattrocki told members of the Board.

School boards typically hire a search firm to guide them through the process and to recruit candidates, said Ms. Quattrocki. Board members concurred that Ms. Quattrocki and School Board member Candance Chow would develop a list of eight to 10 search firms and draft a request for proposal (RFP) to be submitted to those firms. The RFP may also be posted on the District’s website. Board members will discuss the list and the draft RFP at an open meeting before the RFP goes out.

The Board will whittle down the number of firms who submit proposals to four, interview those four, and select one firm to assist in the search for a new superintendent. All of this will be done in open meetings, said Ms. Quattrocki. Board member Claudia Garrison clarified that the Board will select the search firm by a formal vote.

“From there, the firm would go out and really have visioning sessions with the community and the other stakeholders and bring that information back to the Board, as I understand it,” said Ms. Quattrocki. “The Board really isn’t involved in that visioning because the Board, I was told, would then influence what was going on in those community meetings.”

The District and search firm may also gather community input through a survey. It is contemplated the survey will be administered by the ECRA Group (see accompanying article) in consultation with the Board and the search firm.

“And the Board would then have another open session where they would come up with the criteria to give to the search firm to create an ad for the job, what the requirements are and what the vision for the District is,” said Ms. Quattrocki.

“At the point they start giving us the names of candidates, we then move into closed session. And that would hopefully be by this December or January.”

Once the Board narrows down the list of candidates, Ms. Quattrocki said, “The candidates will come to the community … and present at forums and this will give an opportunity to community members to interview the candidates informally. … But, the screening process is a confidential process for the Board members.

“There was one issue I wanted to clarify for the general public, and I think we’ve had many requests to be on the search committee and to do the interviewing for the Superintendent. Barb Toney of the IASB explained to me it is for confidentiality reasons that it is the Board who interviews the candidates, it’s not representatives of the community. So once we narrow down those candidates, it will be the seven of us [Board members] who interview the candidates in closed session and make the final decision.”

The Illinois School Code provides, “[T]he school board shall make all employment decisions pertaining to the superintendent.”

Ms. Chow suggested that documents related to the search be posted on the District’s website, a suggestion with which all members concurred.

Larry Gavin

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...