Following a nationwide search for a new superintendent to lead Proviso High School District 209, the board has narrowed the number of candidates down to two.

Both candidates will tour the district’s three high schools and attend a meet-and-greet with board members and the public before their final interviews this month.

According to Board President Theresa Kelly, the two final candidates for the superintendent position are Dr. Jesse J. Rodriguez and Dr. Eric N. Gallien.

Rodriguez will tour Proviso schools on Feb. 10 and will attend a meet-and-greet from 6 to 7 p.m. later that evening before the board goes into executive session to conduct their final interview. Gallien will similarly tour the schools during the day and attend a meet-and-greet from 6 to 7 p.m. on Feb. 16 ahead of his final interview with the board. Both meet-and-greets will take place in Proviso East’s Social Room, 807 S. First Ave.

“Both [candidates] seem to be transformational,” Kelly said. “They are both saying they would be visible in the community and are up for the challenge.”

Kelly encouraged district staff and the community to attend both meet-and-greet events and to give their thoughts to board members to help inform their coming decision. At the meet-and-greet, attendees can talk with the candidate and participate in a question-and-answer session with the candidate. Afterward, they can call the superintendent’s office to leave their thoughts on board members’ voicemail boxes, email them, or talk with them directly after the meeting.

“This is a major decision for the Proviso community,” Kelly said of the board’s selection. “We need [the community] to be there and to share their voice. This is why I want the community to come out. I feel it’s very important [for the public] to hear from candidates and speak to them.”

At their Jan. 12 meeting, the board received an update on the district’s superintendent search and discussed the results of a districtwide survey about what qualities the public hoped to see in the next superintendent.

The survey was answered by 82 people, including 27 current staff members and seven students. Survey respondents said they wanted someone accessible and visible to the public in school and at events, friendly with students, and someone who could work collaboratively with the board.

Kelly said the board additionally looked for a candidate that stood out as being trustworthy, a strong communicator, student focused and politically astute. She felt both final candidates met the board’s high expectations in these areas.

After both have met the public and completed their final interviews with the board, the board will meet again to discuss their options and choose the candidate they feel will best perform for the district. Kelly said she expects the board will have made a decision before the end of February.