The Oak Park Elementary Schools District 97 school board recently approved the appointment of three new administrators. At a regular meeting on March 13, the board unanimously hired Paul Starck-Knight as the district’s new superintendent for finance and operations, Dr. Tawanda Lawrence as the new senior director of curriculum and Patrick Robinson as the new principal for Whittier Elementary.
Starck-Knight replaces Dr. Alicia Evans, who resigned in December to work as assistant superintendent of business operations in another school district. Starck-Knight comes from the ECHO Joint Agreement, a special education cooperative in the south suburbs where he worked for two years as director of finance and operations.
Before that, Starck-Knight was chief financial officer for Antioch Community Consolidate School District 34 for five years and business manager for Oak Grove School District 68 for two years. He also has experience as a math teacher.
Starck-Knight is working on his doctorate in educational leadership at Concordia University Chicago. He has a master’s degree in education leadership from National-Louis University and a bachelor’s degree in accountancy from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He received a 1-year contract for the 2018-19 school year, which included a base salary of $146,030.
Lawrence replaces Dr. Helen Dr. Helen Wei, who resigned last January. Lawrence comes from Country Club Hills School District 160, where she was director of curriculum, instruction and technology for three years, and director of curriculum and instruction for one year before serving in that position.
She was also the principal at A.O. Marshall Elementary School in Joliet for six years and assistant principal at Washington Jr. High School Academy in Joliet for four years. Lawrence also has experience as a music teacher and dean of students.
She has a doctorate in educational leadership from DePaul University, a master’s degree in administration and supervision from Roosevelt University and a bachelor’s degree in music education from Eastern Illinois University. Lawrence signed a 1-year contract for the 2018-19 school year and will be paid a base salary of $130,175.
Robinson comes to the district from Urban Prep Academies for Young Men in Chicago, where he was principal for six years. He has also been a director of curriculum and instruction for three years, a teacher induction coach for a year and an elementary school teacher for six years.
He earned a master’s degree in school leadership and a post-graduate superintendent endorsement from Concordia University and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Monmouth College.
Robinson replaces Keisha Warner, who resigned last July after three years in the position. Scott Kasic and Jim Doyle had been serving as the school’s interim co-principals while the district worked on Warner’s replacement. Robinson signed a 1-year contract for the 2018-19 school year and will be paid a base salary of $120,871.
“I want to thank Alicia, Helen, Scott and Jim for their service to our students and community,” said D97 Supt. Carol Kelley in a statement released March 13.
“I also want to welcome Paul, Tawanda and Patrick to our district,” she said. “Their talents and expertise, coupled with their commitment to education and passion for learning, will help us advance our vision, build on the successes of our schools and enable our students to realize their full potential.”