Recruit, don't recycle

Opinion: Editorials

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

Into the launch of this most absurd school year, Forest Park's District 91 elementary school board also begins its consequential search for the next school superintendent.

COVID or not, in person or virtual, this school system with its strengths and its perpetual and troubling shrinkage will be in the market for a superintendent for the first time in years. Dr. Louis Cavallo will retire — in person or virtually — at the end of this school year. Innovative but never able to win over the home team, Cavallo will leave a district with adequate resources, up-to-date technology, well-kept facilities and low energy.

In the weeks ahead, the school board will begin to define the qualities necessary in its next leader. Inevitably it will seek to compensate for what Cavallo has lacked. This tiny district needs passion, a person who wants to know and listen to parents and teachers, who is a frequent visitor to playgrounds and PTO meetings, a person who can take criticism and share a laugh. This district needs a salesperson who can tout the values of its education, who can defend it from detractors while holding the district to account.

This district needs a connector. A champion.

Next step will be to hire an executive search firm. Poof. There goes $15,000 to $20,000. In all the accepted routines that keep public education flat and contained, the endless loop of superintendent searches by insider firms made up of current or retired superintendents is about the most tedious. Right now two such firms are being interviewed. Cavallo is touting them for having leaders of neighboring districts on staff.

How about breaking the mold? How about not listening to the sitting super from Proviso's District 89 or the retired chief from Oak Park's District 97? How about listening to the community, to teachers, having the confidence as school board members to listen to yourselves? How about researching districts accomplishing what we want to accomplish and then recruiting their number two?

As we always say, hiring a superintendent is the single greatest opportunity for a school board. Don't contract that job out to insiders.

Love the Review?

Become our partner in independent community journalism

Thanks for turning to Forest Park Review and We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?

On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.

No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.

Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.

Donate Now

Reader Comments

2 Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Michelle Cooper  

Posted: August 27th, 2020 6:53 PM

I am glad D91 is NOT following this advice. It is penny wise and pound foolish. Let the search progress. Use a professional firm for this very important hire.

Steven Rummel from Forest Park, IL  

Posted: August 26th, 2020 11:05 AM

Wrong. D91 has used search firms for a good reason - those firms know the needs of education, the market for talent, and the various other considerations including specific items the district identifies. Who in the district is actually qualified to independently find and select a candidate? The board itself cant do this, and they know it. All candidates identified by search firms are also interviewed by multiple constituancies within the district prior to hiring. We have a process in place for a reason - to find and hire good talent. We should use it, especially given the success we have had in the past.

Facebook Connect

Community Guide 2019 - 2020

To view the full print edition of the Forest Park Review 2019 - 2020 Community Guide, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Forest Park.

MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad

Classified Ad

Latest Comments