Updated Aug. 7, 12:10 p.m.

The Riverside School District 96 Board of Education tentatively plans to announce its choice for a new superintendent on Dec. 18, following a three-and-a-half month search that will kick off in early September.

School board members met at a special meeting on Aug. 1 with two representatives from its search firm, Hazard, Young and Attea (HYA), to hammer out a timeline for the process. The search will be confidential, meaning candidates will not be introduced to the public prior to the announcement of a final choice. The salary range for the position also won’t be disclosed publicly. Board members are expected to discuss salary issues in closed session at their regular meeting, scheduled for Aug. 28.

Whoever is chosen is expected to begin work in D96 on July 1, 2013, replacing Jonathan Lamberson, who has been superintendent since 2005. HYA was the district’s search firm during that search process as well.

The first leg of the search process will be an information-gathering effort by HYA to get information on the qualities district residents and employees are looking for in the new superintendent.

That information will be gathered in a couple of different ways. First, the district will post an online survey that can be filled out by any member of the public. That survey will be available online from Aug. 28 to Sept. 14.

On Sept. 10 and 11, HYA will conduct small-group sessions with a variety of community stakeholders, including local government, business and service organization leaders; school parent associations; D96 administrators; D96 teacher and custodial union leadership; parents representing students in the district’s special education program; representatives from local private schools and preschools; and middle school students.

In addition, the district is planning on hosting an open community forum on Sept. 10. The time and place for that forum has not been finalized yet. HYA will then take all of the information gathered from the online survey and forums and write a leadership profile report, which they’ll present to the school board on Oct. 4.

“We’ll use that criteria as we screen candidates that apply or who we recruit,” said Hank Gmitro, president of HYA. “And you can use it as you evaluate the candidates and draft the interview questions.”

According to Gmitro, the majority of candidates for the job will be recruited by their firm. The search will be nationwide and the job also will be posted online.

During October, HYA will do preliminary interviews with a dozen or so of the identified strongest candidates for the job. They will then whittle that number down to five candidates, whom the school board will interview in closed session on Nov. 9 and 10.

The top three candidates will be brought back for second interviews during the week of Nov. 12.

“At this stage, these candidates are interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them,” Gmitro said. “Part of your job is to sell them on Riverside.”

The board will determine its preferred candidate by Nov. 16 and a small group of board members will make a site visit to the candidate’s present district, the week of Dec. 3. The board is then expected to announce who they are hiring at their regular meeting scheduled for Dec. 18.