The Riverside Elementary School District 96 Board of Education has chosen its new superintendent.

But the choice will not be announced to the public for a couple weeks as the board makes a site visit to confirm its choice and works out final contract details, board President Mary Ellen Meindl said Monday.

The school board spent a week interviewing candidates for the superintendent’s job. On Nov. 9 and Nov. 10 the board interviewed five semifinalists, which included three sitting superintendents and two assistant superintendents, Meindl said. The interviews lasted about two hours each.

Last week the three finalists, all sitting superintendents, were called back for second interviews over dinner at the Hyatt Lodge in Oak Brook. These interviews lasted more than two hours each, Meindl said. On Nov. 16 the school board met for a couple hours at L.J. Hauser Junior High School to make its pick.

“I think we could have worked with any of the three finalists,” Meindl said. “They were all really bright, younger superintendents in their respective school districts.”

All three of the finalists are in their first superintendent’s job, Meindl said.

After rather quickly eliminating one of the finalists from consideration, the school board discussed the final two candidates for about 45 minutes.

“When it came to the top two, there just needed to be a lot more conversation just to solidify in our minds that we were all in agreement who the top choice was,” Meindl said.

Then each member of the board wrote down the name of their top pick on a sheet of paper. They all wrote down the same name, Meindl said.

“It was unanimous,” Meindl said.

Meindl offered the candidate the job and the candidate accepted. The two sides agreed on a salary that Meindl did not disclose. The salary will be disclosed when the candidate is officially appointed.

“We made a verbal agreement Friday night, and we have to do a site visit to their school district to meet with stakeholders in the school district, the principals, PTA people and walk into some classrooms and see teachers and just make sure that what this individual has been telling us is going on in the school district is what’s going on in the school district,” Meindl said. “It’s a big decision and it’s important to do the due diligence and make sure and confirm what we’ve heard.”

Two members of the board will go visit the school district where the new superintendent currently works Meindl said. This is typically a formality.

The school board will vote formally to approve a contract with the new superintendent at its Dec. 18 board meeting, but Meindl said that the school district would likely issue a press release announcing its choice before that meeting, probably in the first week of December.

The new superintendent will take over the reins in District 96 on July 1, 2013 when Superintendent Jonathan Lamberson retires.

Forty-five candidates applied for the position, Meindl said.

Meindl said that she thought the search process went smoothly, and she credited search firm Hazard, Young & Attea with doing a good job of identifying candidates and helping the school board in the process.

“I think HYA did a great job and, after going this process, I think it would be very difficult for a board to pull together a slate of top-notch candidates by themselves,” Meindl said.

Meindl said that she is glad that the search for a new superintendent is just about over.

“I’m excited,” Meindl said. “It’s been a long process. I’m very pleased with the results.”