D200 picks search firm for new superintendent

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

During a special meeting on Jan. 11, the District 200 school board voted unanimously to select executive search firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates to facilitate the search for the district's next superintendent. Current Supt. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams announced last year that she intends to retire this July. 

The board selected Hazard after hearing presentations from two other executive search firms — Omaha-based McPherson & Jacobson and Libertyville-based BWP & Associates. The district hired BWP five years ago, when it was looking to replace former superintendent Steve Isoye. That search resulted in Pruitt-Adams' hiring. 

Max McGee, president of Hazard, and Connie Collins presented for the firm. Collins served as superintendent of Oak Park Elementary School District 97 from 2005 until 2010 and currently lives in the village. She said she has a granddaughter who attends Brooks Middle School. 

"We're aware that [Oak Park and River Forest High School] and HYA understand the need for our nation and the Oak Park community to acknowledge and support a focus on racial equity," said Collins. "We believe these are not just words on paper but an actionable goal that leads to the identification of a highly qualified, yet diverse candidate pool for your consideration." 

Hazard has conducted five superintendent searches for District 97, including the search that resulted in the hiring of current Supt. Carol Kelley back in 2015. 

Collins said she partnered with the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents to develop the organization's strategic plan and has served on the board of directors for the National Alliance of Black School Educators. 

She also co-founded an institute for aspiring superintendents, which identified and trained aspiring central office administrators. She said more than 40 graduates of the organization went on to become superintendents. 

The firm will charge $24,950 for the search process, which includes administrative expenses. Additional costs may be allocated for national advertising, third-party background checks and travel for finalists, McGee said. 

The cost for BWP, which Hazard edged out narrowly, were $19,500 for consulting fees, which would not include another $4,675 for additional administrative and travel expenses. 

McGee and Collins told board members that the firm will develop a search plan, conduct individual interviews, facilitate virtual focus groups and community forums, create a job description, advertise the position nationally, screen applicants and help the chosen candidate develop goals for the district, among other tasks. 

Both Supt. Pruitt-Adams and the board have said that they want to make sure her permanent successor is hired by this current board configuration before the April 6 election. There will be at least two new board members after the election. Incumbents Jackie Moore and Matt Baron will not run for re-election. 

"We think it's certainly possible to have the final candidate identified by spring break so you can negotiate the contract and appoint that individual as early as your first meeting in April," said McGee. 

Email: michael@oakpark.com

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