A week's delay, as District 97 hones in on next superintendent

? Board "not stuck" as it reviews final three choices for school leader to replace Fagan.

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By DAN HALEY

Plans to hire a new superintendent for Oak Park District 97 elementary schools have fallen, perhaps, a week behind an ambitious schedule as the school board narrows its focus on three top candidates for the post.

In a calendar laid out last summer, the school had targeted this Wednesday, Jan. 26 as the day on which to announce its choice to replace retiring 17-year Supt. Dr. John Fagan.

"It is going a little slower than we planned," said board president Adekunle Onayemi, the group's spokesperson for the search. "We are doing what Oak Parkers do," said Onayemi, describing a tendency toward process that can lengthen the best made plans. "We haven't done this (hired a superintendent) in 17 years. We haven't had this experience on the board."

Onayemi emphasized that the board "is not stuck" in making a choice. "We are almost at the last stage. Making site visits (to the home districts of the final candidates), doing background checks, discussing contracts. We're doing the leg work. We're being very deliberate. We're doing more than due diligence." But, he said, the board is "moving in the same direction."

Onayemi said there have been general discussions with the final three candidates on what contract conditions it would take to finalize a deal. But, he said, "I wouldn't say we've offered a contract" to any single candidate.

The board president said he expected a final decision in, "at most, probably a week."

Such a delay, he said, would not impact key additional administration hirings such as the assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. Mary Schneider has announced her retirement from that post effective this spring. Plans call for the newly named superintendent to be actively involved in choosing her successor.

It has been previously reported that the three finalists are all current Illinois school superintendents.

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