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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Evanston/Skokie School District 65 to announce next superintendent in March

Daily file photo by Seeger Gray
Evanston/Skokie District 65’s board of education plans to announce their next superintendent at its Mar. 18 meeting. The board hired the Illinois Association of School Boards to conduct the search.

Evanston/Skokie School District 65 is in the final round of its superintendent search, according to Board of Education President Sergio Hernandez. He said the board hopes to announce a new superintendent at its regular meeting on March 18. 

The district’s search for a new superintendent began in September after former superintendent Devon Horton took a job in Georgia this school year. The district officially appointed then-assistant superintendent Angel Turner as the interim superintendent in July. 

The district hired the Illinois Association of School Boards to conduct its search after reviewing several search firms. The IASB assists Illinois public schools and their boards of education in hiring, using national networks of superintendents and school administrators. 

After establishing a timeline for the search, IASB consultants survey stakeholders to determine what skills and experience the school community wants in their next superintendent, according to Patricia Sullivan-Viniard, IASB’s director of executive searches. 

The board also chose to hold stakeholder focus groups, an optional part of IASB’s search process, to learn about problems and “points of pride” in the district, Sullivan-Viniard said. 

These stakeholders include board of education members, parents and guardians, school staff, and community members. 

Surveys received a total of 611 responses, including eight from an in-person focus group composed of parents, guardians and caretakers.

Sullivan-Viniard said her team took the results and synthesized them into base criteria for applicants. The board modified those requirements to its liking and published the criteria list in the IASB’s announcement of vacancy to seek candidates, she said. 

The majority of stakeholders want a superintendent with previous teaching, principal and district-level or central office experience. Many also prefer a superintendent who lives in the district and has experience working in a “large, diverse district,” IASB found. 

The board also looked for several additional qualifications for its next superintendent. 

“We need somebody with the finance expertise to help us out with or who has connections with folks who could help us through our financial situation here,” Hernandez said. 

He said the board also wants someone who can “humanize educational work” for staff members and can build strong relationships with the greater school community. 

Hernandez said it’s important for District 65’s superintendent to hold the district “accountable” for ensuring student’s academic, social and emotional outcomes are met. 

“I think you have to have a holistic view and approach to closing opportunity achievement gaps,” he said.

After the applicant window closed, IASB did two rounds of screenings to present a “candidate slate” of four to six candidates to the board, Sullivan-Viniard said. The board then conducted interviews to narrow down semifinalists, she said. 

Semifinalists then went through a second round of interviews with the board. District 65’s semifinalists were also interviewed by a stakeholder group composed of district staff members. 

Sullivan-Viniard said each stakeholder rated the semifinalists based on the superintendent criteria created by the community. She then synthesized the information for the board. 

“That’s one more piece of data and information that the board can use to help make their decision,” she said. 

The board is currently deliberating over its decision. Board members will make their choice using each candidate’s application, interviews and stakeholder opinions.

Throughout the hiring process, Hernandez said input from the community about the next superintendent was a priority. 

“We, as school board members, are representatives of the community,” Hernandez said. “We really find an importance in ensuring that we continue to engage the folks that we’re serving.” 

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @anavi_52

Related Stories: 

District 65 board votes to begin closing process for Bessie Rhodes, approves revised 5th Ward school plan 

The search for a new District 65 superintendent continues amid 5th Ward school difficulty 

D65 community says goodbye to Devon Horton 

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