District 91's Superintendent Lou Cavallo is retiring in June 2021. The school board has begun its search for a replacement. | File photo

The District 91 school board is in the first stages of its search for a new superintendent, as current superintendent Lou Cavallo is retiring in June 2021.

The board has formed a three-member superintendent search committee comprised of board president Kyra Tyler and members Monique Cotton-Yancy and Mary Win Connor.

The committee has spoken to two search firms and will hear presentations from them prior to the September board meeting, during which the recommendation of which firm to hire will be on the agenda.

The firms are Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates (HYA), which the district used during its last superintendent search, and School Exec Connect. Both began locally, and both, interestingly, would provide consultants who are or were superintendents of nearby school districts.

Dr. David Negron, a consultant with School Exec Connect, is the current superintendent of Maywood, Melrose Park and Broadview’s District 89. He is listed as the chief financial officer of School Exec Connect on the firm’s website. Dr. Constance Collins, of HYA, was formerly Oak Park’s District 97 superintendent.

As Cavallo pointed out during the Aug. 13 board meeting, serving as superintendents of nearby towns gives them understanding and knowledge of Forest Park’s needs.

Connor, who spoke with School Exec Connect prior to the Aug. 13 board meeting, said she was surprised by the timeline for finding a superintendent, which would begin in September. “We would have someone by December,” Connor said. Cotton-Yancy said HYA’s timeline was similar.

Both firms would solicit input from the community about what traits are essential in an ideal candidate, which might include focus groups or surveys. But the final decision on who to hire is ultimately up to the board.

Any internal candidates will be treated the same as external candidates.

Both firms said they would work with the board to help members hone their interviewing skills. School Exec Connect would charge around $18,000 plus expenses. HYA’s fee would be around $17,000.

In an email, Tyler said that the process has only begun but the committee is “excited to find a partner in this incredibly important process. Right now, we’re at the beginning stages, but we’re hopeful that we’re going to find a candidate worthy of our great district and community!”