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On Oct 21, the District 65 School Board selected the search firms that it will interview to assist in the search for a new superintendent for the District. Seven firms submitted responses to a Request for Proposal issued by the District. The Board reduced the field to four.

The four firms are:

• b.w.p. and Associates, with a corporate office in Libertyville, Ill, says it is a nationwide superintendent search firm that traces its beginnings to 1977. BWP says it has conducted more than 800 successful executive searches.

• Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, a division of ECRA Group, Inc., has offices in Rosemont, Ill. HYA says it has associates in 27 states, and has assisted more than 1,000 school boards in executive searches. Bill Attea of the firm was retained by District 65 to facilitate the development of the District’s last five-year strategic plan. ECRA has assisted the District in conducting stakeholder surveys and in developing a model to evaluate teachers using growth in student achievement.

• Ray and Associates, Inc. has its corporate office in Cedar Rapids, Iowa  and a local office in St. Charles, Ill. Ray says it has been in the school executive search business since 1975 and has more than 160 associates throughout the country. Evanston Township High School retained Ray in the search for a superintendent that led to the retention of Dr. Eric Witherspoon.

• School Exec Connect, with an office in Highland Park, Ill., says it was founded in 2004 and has more than 45 partners and associates throughout the country.

The RFP asked each search firm to provide information concerning their experience, including in identifying a diverse pool of candidates, their track record, the process they would use in conducting the search, how they would engage the community in the process, the strategies they would use to recruit candidates and do background checks, whether they have identified non-traditional superintendents,  and other information.

The Board used information submitted by each firm, together with information gathered in phone calls and google searches to winnow the field to four firms.

The Board plans to interview representatives of each search firm at a specially called meeting on Oct. 28. The Board plans to ask each firm to make a short ten-minute presentation and then reserve 30 minutes to ask questions to each firm. Each firm will be asked to answer the same four questions, which will enable the Board to differentiate between the firms. Several questions will be tailored for each firm.

One area Board members said they want to probe is how each search firm will customize community engagement and its recruitment efforts in light of the community’s diverse population. Other areas include how each firm will customize the search in light of what they know about the initiatives of the Board and District and the educational challenges facing the District, and what strategies each firm will use to recruit potential candidates.

In the meantime, the Board asked Board President Tracy Quattrocki to check several references provided by each firm and to call other persons who might possess information. Board member Claudia Garrison was asked to conduct a google search of each firm.

The Board is expected to select a firm after the interviews on Oct. 28. To allow time to complete the interview process and to allow Board members time to discuss their views, the meeting is tentatively scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m.

After a search firm is selected, the Board plans to work with the firm to gather community input to help in defining the qualities and characteristics desired in a new superintendent.  This input will help shape the recruitment process.

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...