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District 161 considering search firm to help find Parker principal

The search for a new principal at Parker Junior High School will soon be underway and it’s possible Flossmoor District 161 will turn to a familiar search firm for assistance.

Interim Superintendent Michael Popp said a traditional internal search or using an outside source are the two options. His remarks were made at Tuesday’s board of education meeting.

The potential outside source is BWP and Associates. BWP is currently engaged with District 161 in finding a new superintendent and recently brought Popp in to serve on an interim basis. The board approved Popp’s hiring on Nov. 30 and he will serve as interim superintendent until the end of June.

The firm is also working with District 233 to find a new principal for Homewood-Flossmoor High School.

“We could try it on our own,” Popp told the District 161 board members. “But we don’t know the pool of potential candidates.”

Board President Stephen Paredes said there would be a cost savings if BWP is engaged to conduct the search. He said such an arrangement normally would cost $20,000 but the district would get a discount of between $8,000 and $10,000.

“However, it’s not just about money,” Paredes said. “It’s about value. We know what BWP can do and they are excellent. Also, they are already aware of who is out there.”

Board member John Simmons commented on the timing of a principal search while the district is also seeking a new superintendent. Popp said BWP could begin work on assembling a principal candidates’ pool that would be in place for the new superintendent.

Popp added that BWP “has been pretty impressive” and that he will reach out to them about their interest in conducting the principal search.

Paredes said it’s important for the new superintendent “to meaningfully be involved in the search for a new principal.”

Vickie Person has been serving as Parker’s interim principal since Sept. 19. Her appointment was made after the resignation of David Kennedy on Aug. 26, three days after he was placed on administrative leave. Kennedy is facing a misdemeanor criminal charge in Will County.

Paredes said Person should be a candidate.

“I think she has done a phenomenal job and the feedback about her has been excellent,” he said. “I encourage her to apply. At the same time, we want to conduct a thorough search so we know we’re getting the best possible principal.”

Paredes said the principal search issue is likely to come up again at the next board meeting on Jan 23.   

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