Homewood-Flossmoor High School board members Tuesday spoke with enthusiasm about their selection on Feb. 17 of Dr. Jerry Lee Anderson as the school’s next principal.
Anderson, a former H-F dean, left the area in the mid-1990s to become a principal in Wilmette, Ill., and then relocated to Colorado.
She has held several educational leadership positions there as a principal and director of secondary education. She will be leaving her job as principal at Monarch High School in Louisville, Colo., to return to H-F.
Board member John Farrell said one of Anderson’s daughters, who is a teacher, alerted her of the H-F vacancy. Anderson is interested in returning to the Chicago area after being away for 20 years.
“That is the sun, the moon and the stars lining up for us,” said H-F Board President Richard Lites of the serendipitous timing. “Where ever she went, she always excelled. At the end of the day, I’m absolutely certain she’ll be a top flight principal.”
Board member Deborah Berman concurred: “We are incredibly lucky to be in the right place at the right time to get Dr. Anderson. She’s really strong on curriculum. She’s going to be a great advocate.”
BWP and Associates consulting firm directed the search. It had 70 candidates for the position and spent several weeks going through resumes to give the school board five candidates who were invited to visit H-F in late January.
The five went through interviews with six groups – students, faculty, administrators, support staff, department chairs and community members. Feedback from those groups narrowed the search to two finalists who interviewed at a special board meeting Jan. 30.
Superintendent Von Mansfield said, “It came down to experience, collaboration and forward thinking. She’s aware of the expectations of Homewood-Flossmoor High School. She has a variety of experiences.”
At Tuesday’s regular school board meeting, members voted to give Lites, as president, and Andrew Lindstrom, as board secretary, authority to negotiate a one-year contract with Anderson. The board has agreed to pay $172,000 for her work as principal from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018. She will get a stipend for moving expenses.
Before the vote, Homewood resident Christopher Sawyer asked if this contract would include a clause that would allow the district to again buy out a principal.
In June 2016, the school board agreed to end its relationship with Ryan Pitcock and paid him $184,000 for the last year of his contract.
Berman said that clause was in the contract to protect the district should it decide to release the principal, which it did, and it also saved the district from costly litigation.
Because the contract for Anderson is for one year, it won’t have a similar clause, Berman said.
The board expects to approve the contract at its 7:30 p.m. board meeting on March 21. Anderson will be introduced to the H-F community at that time.
Personnel Committee Chair Gerald Pauling thanked his fellow committee members Tim Wenckus and Jody Scariano for their efforts and the work of BWP.
“The collaboration between that firm and our Personnel Committee was nothing short of amazing,” Pauling said.
The principal search was thorough because of the tremendous input from community members who came to focus group and interview sessions and comments offered through an online survey, he said.