District 161 names new principal at Western Avenue School

Less than a month after the principal at Western Avenue School resigned, Flossmoor District 161 has found a replacement.

Lisa Dallacqua was unanimously appointed to the post at Monday’s board of education meeting.

  Lisa Dallacqua

“I am excited about making this recommendation to the board of education,” stated Dana Smith, the district’s incoming superintendent. “It was a wonderful process, we had incredible candidates for this position. Dr. Dallacqua was by far the most ready to join our team.”

Smith added, “She has incredible knowledge about how students learn and how teachers teach. She is focused on rigor.”

During the recently concluded school year, Dallacqua served as a district coordinator in Bloom Township High School District 206. She previously served as a teacher and principal for 10 years in the Chicago Public Schools system.

Dallacqua holds a doctorate degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Illinois at Chicago, a master’s degree in teaching from National Louis University, a master’s degree in educational leadership from the American College of Education and a bachelor’s degree in Spanish literature and political science from Kalamazoo College.

Dallacqua succeeds Chad Prosen, who served as principal for four years.  Prosen resigned in May to become a principal in Butler School District 53 in Oak Brook.

“I am so excited to be a part of the community. Being the principal at Western Avenue is a true honor,” Dallacqua said. “There are high expectations at this school. I am looking forward to working with teachers, families and staff to meet those expectations.”

Also at this week’s meeting, the board of education held a hearing and then approved two fund transfers that will be necessary to help the district begin the new fiscal year July 1 with a surplus. Transportation funds of $2.5 million will be transferred to the education fund and $1 million to the operations and management fund.

Frances LaBella, associate superintendent of business operations, said the transfers were needed, in part, because of a $1.1 million shortfall from the state of Illinois. The budget process for the new fiscal year is now underway and will continue over the next several months.

Board members also expressed their appreciation to Michael Popp, who has served as interim superintendent for much of this school year. Popp is in his last week serving District 161.

Board member John Simmons said Popp came aboard at a time of “upheaval” in the district.

“He communicated in a clear and thoughtful manner,” Simmons stated. “His sole interest was in improving the school experience.”

Popp started in December shortly after the board reached a separation agreement with Craig Doster, the former superintendent. During Popp’s tenure the district completed searches for a new superintendent, a new principal and assistant principal at Parker Junior High School and a new principal at Western Avenue School.

Popp also provided guidance on several policy revisions and two pilot programs for a revamped mathematics curriculum.  The board’s collective bargaining agreements with teachers, support staff and administration were also finalized on Popp’s watch.

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