Five people, including two from out of state, have been invited to interview next week for the position of superintendent of Riverside-Brookfield High School District 208.

Thursday night the District 208 school board met for about three hours in closed session with consultants from the search firm Hazard, Young and Attea (HYA) and settled on the five semifinalists.

“We received application information from HYA about the candidates, and we identified that we would like to go to the first round of interviews with five individuals,” said District 208 school board President James Marciniak. “They found these five to be the most highly qualified candidates. We’ve got the five best that HYA has to offer.”

Interviews with the five semifinalists will take place on Friday, Jan. 20 and Saturday, Jan. 21 and are expected to last about two hours each. The semifinalists will interview with the entire school board. One HYA consultant will also be in the interview room. Current RB Interim Superintendent David Bonnette will not participate in the interviews. The interviews will be held during a closed session meeting of the school board.

Bonnette will not make any recommendation to the board as to whom to hire to replace him.

“This is really a board decision,” Bonnette said. “I’m looking forward to passing the baton.”

Immediately following next week’s interviews, the school board will confer and select three finalists. Those three finalists will be invited back for a second interview during the week of Jan. 24.

The board will announce its hire in February, either at regularly scheduled board meeting on Feb. 8 or at a special board meeting shortly thereafter.

The five candidates were chosen from a field of 58 applicants Bonnette said. At least one of the candidates is a current superintendent Bonnette said. 

Neither the names of the five semifinalists nor those of the three finalists will be released to the public. Unlike last year’s search for a principal, members of the public and RB staff will not have an opportunity to meet the finalists, hear from them or evaluate them. 

“We are doing a confidential search, because we think that’s the best way of getting access to the most highly qualified folks who might be interested in our job,” Marciniak said. “It’s especially out of consideration for folks who already hold superintendent positions. They can inquire about and investigate our opening without compromising their position in their home district.

“Only one of these people is going to be the successful candidate. Everybody else goes back into the pool and their daily living. We don’t want to compromise anyone’s current position.”

During last year’s principal search, the three finalists each appeared at an open meeting. But a superintendent hire is different, Bonnette said. All three finalists for the principal job were seeking a promotion.

“It’s a little bit different for this kind of position than for a principalship just because of the higher level, if you will, of exposure that a person who’s a superintendent has,” Bonnette said.

Keeping the entire selection process private results in a better quality of candidate, Bonnette said.

“It makes a huge difference in terms of the slate of people who are willing to put their names forward,” Bonnette said.