The Oak Park School District 97 central office, having experienced several recent key staffing changes and amid an organizational restructuring, might receive some scrutiny from an outside consulting firm if the school board follows D97 Supt. Carol Kelley’s proposal for an outside audit.
The board was due to vote on a $30,000 contract with the Jacksonville, Florida-based firm, Atlantic Research Partners, at a regular meeting on June 14. The fee structure for the audit, which would take place in three phases, doesn’t include travel costs and materials.
According to a memo drafted by Atlantic representatives, an outside audit would allow for a smoother transition for newly hired administrative personnel. The firm also notes that it will develop a “game plan” for an efficient central office restructuring.
“We know from our past interactions with Dr. Kelley that she is a strong believer in performance measurement and objective setting, and that discipline should be integrated into the new organizational structure,” according to the memo.
At a May 24 board meeting, Kelley vouched for Atlantis, noting that she’s gotten positive feedback about the firm from references she has reached out to. Kelley also cited a recent survey of central office personnel that she said supports the rationale for conducting an outside audit.
Among the survey’s more notable findings was that nearly 60 percent of D97 respondents either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the contention that their respective departments are aware of work being done in other departments.
Come July 1, the district’s central office will have welcomed six new administrators due to “retirements, departures and/or additions,” according to Kelley. As part of her proposed restructuring, the job functions of her two curriculum and instruction directors have been realigned so they and the district’s building principals report directly to a chief academic and accountability officer.
Amy Warke, 44, was hired in May to fill that new CAAO position at a base salary of $151,000. That month, the board also approved the hiring of Laurie Campbell, 52, at a base salary of roughly $160,000, to replace Steve Cummins, who resigned in March as the district’s assistant superintendent for human resources. They also approved the hiring of Christine Zelaya, 46, to replace John McCauley as Holmes Elementary School principal. That position pays around $123,000 starting out.
In March, the board approved the hiring of Alicia Evans, a chief business officer and human resources director for Prairie-Hills Elementary School District 144, to replace retiring Therese O’Neill, who is retiring from her position as assistant superintendent for finance and operations in July.
Kelley said a central office audit would help these new administrative personnel clarify their respective functions as the district’s new leadership team emerges. She also noted that an audit would allow her team to “compare and contrast Oak Park’s organizational structure with other districts of similar size and complexity.”