The principals of the matter
Lyons SD 103 expects to hire two in near future
By Steve Metsch
Two principal job openings were the main topic of discussion the latest meeting of the Lyons School District 103 board of education.
The July 10 meeting was rescheduled from June 25 when police were searching for a gunman in the village, forcing the cancellation of the board meeting that night.
Several frustrated parents sought answers as to why, this late in the summer, principals have not been hired to fill vacancies at Robinson and Lincoln schools.
Former principals at each were not rehired this spring by the board.
Supt. Kristopher Rivera and school board president Jorge Torres said that while July 10 is late to be without new principals, both jobs should be soon filled.
“It’s a priority,” Rivera said after the meeting.
“We’re working on that process. We have some candidates we want to make recommendations for,” Rivera said, adding that he planned to meet with candidates on July 11.
Asked if was worried about not having the principals hired yet, Rivera said, “a little bit,” and then added “(I’m) trying to work as quickly as I can to get this process rolling.”
Lyons School District 103 Supt. Kristopher Rivera said July 10 that he expects new principals to soon be hired for Robinson and Lincoln schools. File photo.
Speaking before the board went into closed session, Torres said that not having a Human Resources Director on staff “makes it hard.”
“We want to make sure that all the proper steps are taken, (checking) background information,” Torres said. “We’re going to fast-track what we have. It is (late), but it’s worse to hire someone that we don’t have an idea about their background.”
Torres said the school board wants to make the best possible hires for each position.
“We’re going to have to dive into any resource we have. I’m sure there are good people out there. That’s what we’re going to try and accomplish,” Torres said.
Parents like Valerie Fahselt, who heads the PTO at George Washington Middle School, wish the hires were already made.
Fahselt – who has no children at Robinson or Lincoln – delivered an impassioned speech to the school board, her voice quivering with emotion.
“You have known since March you need two new principals,” Fahselt told the board. “These are our students’ lives … Do what needs to be done.”
Former board member Joanne Schaeffer reminded the board “that school starts in six weeks.”
“The principals have to be in their buildings, have them up and going around the fifth of August,” she said, adding that a human resources director and business manager must also be hired.
Schaeffer’s 40-year run on the school board ended when she was voted out of office in April.
She was still on the board for two months after the principal vacancies occurred in March, but did nothing in that time towards seeking or hiring new principals.
After the meeting concluded, board member Shannon Johnson told Rivera, “I’m going to take a while to calm down. Then, we’re going to have a meeting.”
Johnson declined to elaborate on that comment, which was related to topics discussed by the board when it met in closed session for nearly 90 minutes.
Former school board member Tom Weiner, a board member for the Costello School PTO, is worried that the talent pool may be diluted by the hiring delay.
“Bring them in,” Weiner said of job candidates. His son attends Costello, and he has no children in Lincoln or Robinson schools.
“Mr. Rivera has a history in HR in his previous position (in Hammond). He was head of HR for the district. He knows the ins and outs,” Weiner said during the board’s lengthy executive session.
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