District 65 searching for new Superintendent


Photo courtesy of Chicago Tribune

Louise Bond, Staff Writer

In a joint statement released on June 14, the District 65 School Board President Suni Kartha and Superintendent Paul Goren announced that he would be ending his five years as Superintendent, describing it as a “mutual decision” between Goren and the Board. 

The School Board appointed Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction,  Stacey Beardsley to serve as the interim Superintendent from July 1 – Aug 19. On Aug. 19, Beardsley returned to her original position, and Phil Ehrhardt and Heidi Wennstrom became the interim leadership for the 2019-2020 school year. 

“I’ve stepped into moving and preparing the organization for the upcoming school year, planning and overseeing all-district hires,” Beardsley said.

After interviewing four different search firms, the School Board selected BWP & Associates to be the executive search committee to find the interim leadership for the coming school year, as well as the long term replacement.

“It’s actually headed by a longtime Evanstonian, Debra Hill, who used to work in District 65 for many years,” Kartha said. “So she knows the community and the district well.”

BWP & Associates used their expertise in educational leadership to find qualified candidates, and the School Board held interviews in early August and made the final decision placing Ehrhardt and Wennstrom as leadership for the 2019-2020 school year.

“They have an ability to reach candidates that, as a board, we would just not have the networks and skills to do,” Kartha said. 

The School Board has also helped guide the search process to make sure the candidates will be an appropriate fit in the community.

“We’re setting the right groundwork in order to engage in a selection process that’s representative of our board values, the current work that’s happening within the institution, as well as our broader community needs,” School Board Vice President Anya Tanyavutti said.

Not only will the School Board be involved in the process, but they want the community to have a say in the leadership as well.

“We had a meeting recently with BWP to go over some of the timelines with the interim and long term Superintendent search, including how we are going to work to engage the community to get feedback and input on a leadership profile, and to guide us in the search,” Kartha said.

There will be focus groups held on Sept. 12 and the leadership profile for the next permanent Superintendent will be presented to the board on Sept. 23. All community members are encouraged to get involved in both events.

“We really want the community to be involved, particularly parts of our community that have not traditionally had a voice in these types of decisions,” Kartha said. “So, we are trying as much as possible to give information if we have it and be transparent in what’s going on.”

The School Board believes that together with BWP, they’ll be able to find a candidate that is a good fit for the community.

“I’m optimistic that the search will go well and we will find a dynamic and progressive leader for our district,” Kartha said.