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District 161 begins interviews with superintendent finalists

Six finalists for the position of superintendent are being interviewed by members of the Flossmoor District 161 Board of Education as the process to fill the spot by the end of February remains on track.

As for the final applicants, Board of Education President Stephen Paredes said, “They’re all superstars, the person we choose will be the best.”

As the interviewing started the week of Feb. 6, board members had a newly-created superintendent candidate profile in hand to help screen applicants and provide guidance in making a decision.

The profile was created by BWP and Associates, the consulting firm hired by District 161 to help fill the position.


The profile describes the “desired characteristics and experiences” sought in the ideal applicant. Thirteen traits were identified. Examples include integrity and trust, good communicator, leadership skills, successful experience as a superintendent and instructional and teaching experience.

Comments and data collected from interviews, focus groups and an online survey were used to create the document, according to Mark Friedman, president of BWP.

“Strong leadership and trust-building are at the top of the list,” Friedman said.

Paredes said, “This is very encouraging, we all want the same thing. We know our diversity is a strength and is so important, a leader knows that everyone has something to bring to the table.”

Focus groups and public forum participants included certified staff and teachers, PTO leadership, administrators, parents and residents. Interviews were conducted with District 161 board members and village officials. Input also came from 352 respondents to an online survey.

“We have the pulse of the community,” Friedman said.  “Having 352 respondents is a good number. This included strong participation on behalf of the teaching staff. The results are valid. We’ve seen other districts of the same size where people don’t get as involved in the process.”

The strong involvement doesn’t surprise Paredes.

“We have a good read about what people want. This number exceeded our projections and expectations. The participants are representative of the entire community.”

Based on the meetings and survey results, District 161 strengths were identified as excellent teachers and staff, supportive community and parents and the district’s reputation and facilities. Concerns included curriculum, educational options and programs, instruction, community relations, funding and personnel.

The online survey results and the superintendent candidate profile are both posted on the district’s website at www.sd161.org.

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