First reported 6/18/2010 12:48 p.m.

Oak Park elementary school District 97 has chosen its superintendent. Here’s what we know: The new superintendent is from out-of-state, a male, not a minority and is currently serving as a superintendent.

Beyond that the public will have to wait as the name will not be released publicly until early July once a thorough background check and visits to the person’s home district are complete. The selection ends an expedited search process that began in March. The Dist. 97 Board of Education embarked on a fast-track search in hopes of finding someone who could take office by the start of the 2010-2011 school year. The backup plan was to go with an interim and begin a year-long search.

The selection of the new superintendent was unanimous, said Peter Traczyk, the board president. The individual is a current superintendent under contract from an out-of-state school district. In fact, all five of the candidates chosen by the district’s search firm were from other states. That means that one, possibly two, internal candidates did not make the cut as finalists. Kevin Anderson, currently the district’s assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, confirmed he had applied for the post. Victoria Sharts, currently principal at Percy Julian Middle School, had expressed interest in the job but the district never confirmed that she had formally applied.

The Dist. 97 board has made a contract offer to the individual, which is currently under negotiation. Traczyk added that the district would not have announced a selection if their offer wasn’t considered acceptable.

“We made a general offer of compensation but a contract needs to be finalized-we’re in the ballpark,” he said.

The person is a male and not a minority, though Traczyk said there were minorities among the five candidates. Both Oak Park school districts will have new superintendents starting at the same time. Incoming Dist. 200 Supt. Steven Isoye was hired in April and officially starts on July 1. Traczyk said their superintendent will also start by that date.

The board president said they hope to introduce the new superintendent to the community prior to July 1. That, though, will depend on the person’s availability and time it takes for the screening process. The incoming superintendent is also from a district with similar demographics to Dist. 97.

“That experience fits in well with us and what we’ve been doing in Oak Park,” said Traczyk. “It was a strong desire by the board to have an experienced superintendent as opposed to someone moving up from an assistant superintendent job or a principal. It’s going to be a big enough job just to get up to speed with our community. To have someone who’s a new superintendent and coming to a new community, that’s a lot to ask.”

Having a permanent superintendent in place now allows the board to direct its focus on its planned operating fund referendum, with spring 2011 as a target date for a vote. Traczyk has maintained that the board preferred having a superintendent in place while it seeks a referendum.

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Official statement from Distict 97 on their new superintendent

The District 97 Board of Education has selected a finalist for the superintendent position. While the finalist has accepted the district’s offer, the appointment will not be made official until the board conducts a comprehensive background check, contacts the candidate’s references and performs a site visit to the candidate’s current place of employment. The board anticipates it will take approximately two weeks to complete this process, and hopes to have a new superintendent in place by July 1, 2010. Additional updates regarding the status of the search will be provided as new information becomes available.

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