I served on the District 65 School Board through two hiring processes for our superintendent, arguably the most important work the board does. We went to extensive efforts to make the process inclusive, to involve stakeholders, and to inform the community as the search unfolded.
Yet, the ultimate decision rested, as it should, with the Board. And the discussion regarding the candidates for the most part, like all personnel discussions, was held in private session. Like the City Council, we did not vote on the final candidate in closed session but went through a deliberative process to reach consensus on the selected candidate who was then brought forth for vote and approval. We didn’t always agree on our top candidate, but we worked through the process and arrived at a decision the entire board felt was best for the school district.
I believe the way the District 65 Board handed its hiring of a superintendent has great merit.
The City Manager is tasked with serving the residents and executing the will of the Council as a body that represents these residents. If the Council were to hash out their preferences in a public forum, this would surely disadvantage the chosen candidate regardless of how skilled or experienced she is. Nine people voting independently for a candidate is an election, not a hiring process.
I know that Evanston is committed to a well-functioning Council, but I fear that on occasion, well-intentioned requests for more transparency actually hinder that goal.
Candance Chow, Former District 65 School Board Member