The applicant pool for the River Forest District 90 superintendent position has been narrowed to less than 10 applicants, and interviews with those candidates will be conducted in closed meetings of the board of education over the next several weeks.

The current superintendent, Thomas Hagerman, will leave the district in June for a new position with the Winnetka public schools on the North Shore.

“Over the next few weeks we’re going to be moving into a couple rounds of interviews with the goal being able to announce somebody at our April 5 board meeting,” said school board member James Weiss.

He said the closed meetings were specifically designed to draw more applicants. “In order to maximize our applicant interest, as we’ve done in the past, we took a confidential approach to [the interview process],” he said.

But the board is not the only entity that will be able to meet with the applicants. When board members narrow the search to three finalists, they’ll enlist parents, staff and administrators to help out. “It’s still in flux,” said Weiss of the exact design of the supplemental assistance. “But these committees will have interviews with the candidates,” he said, adding that the board expects to narrow the search down to three finalists by that time. The parent, staff and administrator committees would also be asked to maintain the same level of confidentiality as the school board interviews.

The board enlisted a search firm, School Exec-Connect, to recruit for the opening. The firm received some 50 applications from candidates across the state and beyond. Weiss said from that number, he believes the board of education will interview about seven people.

“School Exec-Connect if very excited about the applicant pool that they got and the people they’ve recommended to us” he said. “We’re hopeful.”

There is a contingency plan, however, if none of the applicants prove a good fit for River Forest public schools.

“The caveat we throw in is we’re looking for the best match possible for our district,” Weiss said. “If none of the candidates meet out criteria, then we will pursue an interim until we can find somebody who is a good match for us.”

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