Casimira Gorman, Blythe Park principal

After meeting in closed session for two hours late Tuesday night, the Riverside Elementary School District 96 Board of Education approved new hiring four new administrators for next year, filling out the district’s administrative team for the 2014-15 school year.

The school board voted unanimously to hire Steve Juracka as principal at L.J. Hauser Junior High School, Casimira Zarzycki Gorman as principal at Blythe Park School and Pamela Shaw as the director of special education and student services. 

The board also voted 4 to 3 to hire Donald Tufano as the director of innovation and instructional technology.

Juracka is an associate principal at Bartlett High School, where he is responsible for curriculum and instruction, building operations, the guidance department and activities. Juracka was brought to Bartlett four years ago as the head of the social studies and world language divisions by District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis, when Skinkis was the principal at Bartlett.

Skinkis said District 96 made a good choice in hiring Juracka.

“Steve Juracka is a good guy,” Skinkis said. “He’s very organized, is a great communicator and I think the parents, students and staff of Hauser will be very happy with him as their principal.”

Juracka, 38, has extensive administrative experience.

Before going to Bartlett he was an assistant principal for four years in Lansing District 158, for one year at Memorial Junior High School and for three years at Calvin Coolidge Elementary School.

Juracka began his career as social studies teacher at Bloom Township High School. He will be paid $115,000 next year.

“I’m very, very passionate about this work, Juracka said. “I really like to focus on building relationships with my staff and my community.”

Zarzycki Gorman serves as an assistant principal at two elementary schools in LaGrange District 105 — Ideal School in Countryside and Spring Avenue School in LaGrange. 

Before becoming an assistant principal this year, Zarzycki Gorman, 38, was the district’s gifted coordinator for one year. She taught fourth grade at Ideal School for 10 years. She has also served as the summer school coordinator in District 105 and as a literacy coach. She began her career as a second-grade teacher in Chicago.

“There is a very genuine quality about District 96,” said Zarzycki Gorman, who is not related to former Riverside Village President Michael Gorman. “I have friends and family who had shared their experiences of either having children who had attended there or had previously worked there, and their experiences were nothing but positive.”

Zarzycki Gorman will be paid $90,000 next year.

Shaw is the executive director of student services at Indian Prairie Unit District 204, which serves more than 29,000 students in the Naperville-Aurora area. She has extensive administrative experience in special education in both District 204 and Naperville District 203. 

Earlier in her career Shaw worked as a self-contained classroom teacher for a special education cooperative and has extensive administrative experience in early childhood education.

“After being in two large unit districts, I was really looking forward to the opportunity to work in an elementary district again with a smaller size and be more hands on with staff, with students and with families,” Shaw said. “In a large district, I didn’t feel I had that opportunity as I would in a smaller district.” 

Shaw will be paid $120,000 next year.

“Those who have worked with Ms. Shaw describe her as a collaborative leader who makes great decisions based on what is best for each child,” said District 96 Superintendent Bhavna Sharma-Lewis in a press release. “[She] is a great listener and effective communicator and builds strong, trusting relationships with all stakeholders.”

Tufano has spent seven years as the director of technology at Valley View Consolidated School District 365U, which serves 18,000 students in Bolingbrook and Romeoville. He began his career as an elementary school teacher in LaGrange District 105 and rose to become the director of technology there.

District 96 school board President Mary Rose Mangia, Vice President Rachel Marrello and board member Randy Brockway voted against hiring Tufano. They preferred a more hands-on technology person.

“There was a question of fit,” said Brockway, who sat on the interview panel for the position. “Is he the right person for this job, for what we need? He’s very talented and an impressive candidate. It was almost as if he was overqualified. Is he more than what we need? We’ve been hearing from the consultant that we need more of a hands-on person, a person who is really good with all the computer programs and software, because we recognize as a board that the board didn’t have much expertise with that.”

Mangia also said that she preferred a more hands-on hire, but said that she believes that Tufano will do a good job.

“I think he has very good credentials, and I think he will be effective,” Mangia said.

Tufano will make $117,000 next year.

District 96 Technology Specialist Matt Ahlenius announced at the school board meeting Tuesday that he is leaving District 96 to take a job out of state. 

Ahlenius did yeoman work this year, and in previous years, keeping things working in the district despite having to work with antiquated servers and other operational challenges.

D96 board split on rehiring finance manager

     The business manager at Riverside Elementary School District 96 barely kept his job Tuesday night.

     A closely divided school board voted 4 to 3 to give Zack Zayed, the District 96 director of finance and operations, a new one-year contract for the 2014-15 school year.

     Voting to rehire Zayed were Lisa Gaynor, David Kodama, Michael O'Brien and Art Perry. Voting against were school board President Mary Rose Mangia, Vice President Rachel Marrello and Randy Brockway.

     The latter three, who were all elected to the school board last year, apparently had issues with Zayed's responsiveness to their questions and requests for information.

     "He's done some good work, but there's times that I just don't feel he takes leadership in financial transparency, and I hope he takes it [as a sign] of how important it is to us, at least to me," Mangia said Wednesday. "That's all I'm looking for."

      Brockway said that the position is a key one in the district.

     "We have high expectations for that position and that role," Brockway said." We need some real experience and talent there. … There was some concern that we needed somebody with a lot longer track record."

     Zayed has also ruffled feathers among teachers with a reportedly aggressive management style.

     Kodama said that he voted to rehire Zayed based on the recommendation of Superintendent Bhavna Sharma-Lewis and his experience working with Zayed.

     Zayed had a diplomatic reaction to the school board vote.

     "I am committed to working with the D96 BOE and leadership team to support the district's finance and operations in order to maximize academic and professional excellence," Zayed said in an email to the Landmark.

     Sharma-Lewis said that she had faith in Zayed, who was hired with a one-year contract last summer.

     "I'm confident in Zack's abilities, and I know he will continue to support the board and the district leadership team in the department of financial and operational excellence to help us achieve our goals in academic and professional excellence," Sharma-Lewis said Wednesday.

     The board approved giving Zayed a 1-percent raise next year, boosting his salary to $101,000. That raise is the smallest raise handed out to any of the administrators hired last year. In contrast, Director of Academic Excellence Brian Ganan will receive a 3-percent raise next year, boosting his salary to $123,600.