With current Superintendent Devon Horton set to take the helm of the DeKalb County School District in Georgia starting July 1, the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 board plans to appoint an interim leader who will take over this summer.
In a letter to Evanston families sent Thursday afternoon, board President Sergio Hernandez Jr. said he and other board members intend to announce their choice for interim superintendent before the end of the current school year, which concludes Tuesday, June 6.
“We will look to appoint an interim superintendent to take the helm in July while we engage in a national search for our new leader. Our priority for the interim role is maintaining stability and continuity for our community,” Hernandez said in the statement. “It is the board’s intention to vote on and announce an appointment prior to the end of this school year to help ensure a thoughtful transition prior to Dr. Horton’s departure.”
That process will begin early next month after Omar Salem, a newcomer who recently won his first term in this spring’s election, officially joins the school board, according to Hernandez.
Hernandez also thanked Horton for his service to the district over the past three years, saying that he “laid a strong foundation and it has been a privilege to work alongside him.”
“I know he [Horton] will work collaboratively with both the school board and our senior leadership team to ensure that we have a robust transition plan, that there is continuity for the summer planning work, and that we will have a strong start to our new school year,” Hernandez said.
After the school board there voted to hire him, Horton told reporters in DeKalb County on Wednesday that he wants to start work early by spending time meeting with families and community organizations this spring before he officially begins the job on July 1. Any impact that might have on his remaining work in Evanston remains to be seen.
Since former Superintendent Hardy Murphy resigned in 2013, the district has seen five different interim and permanent superintendents, including Mary Brown, Paul Goren, Phil Ehrhardt, Heidi Wennstrom and Horton. Ehrhardt and Wennstrom served as co-interim superintendents during the 2019-2020 year between the tenures of Goren and Horton.
Hernandez did not say in his letter whether the interim superintendent selected by the board would stay for all of the 2023-24 school year, and the board’s timeline for a national search is not yet available.
“As a school board, hiring a superintendent is our most important job. It is not our desire to rush this process nor do we believe it’s in the best interest of our community to do so,” Hernandez said. “We know the importance of a thorough, inclusive search and identifying a pool of highly qualified, student centered candidates.”