Former Riverside schools superintendent David Bonnette could be hired as a consultant to help the District 96 Board of Education choose an interim superintendent and a permanent curriculum director.

On March 23, the school board held a special meeting and agreed to engage a consultant to help them hire an interim superintendent and an assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, according to a press release issued Wednesday by District 96.

And Tuesday night, after the Landmark’s press time, the school board met in a special session. Initially, that meeting was called in part to hire the consultant. However, the agenda for that meeting was amended over the weekend and hiring a consultant was not listed on the new agenda.

School board President Mary Rose Mangia told the Landmark she had breakfast with Bonnette, who lives in Riverside, after the board approved the resignation and separation agreement with Superintendent Bhavna Sharma-Lewis. 

“We just had a general conversation,” Mangia said. “It was a breakfast.”

Mangia said Bonnette is a candidate among others for the consultant position.

“When you have a situation like this, he’s always in the mix,” Mangia said.

Bonnette served as superintendent in District 96 for 13 years before retiring in 2005. Since retiring, Bonnette has served as an interim superintendent in River Forest District 90 and was the interim chief at Riverside-Brookfield High School District 208 from 2009 until 2011.

Bonnette is not expected to be a candidate for the interim superintendent’s job in District 96. Mangia said she believes Bonnette has let his superintendent’s license lapse since leaving District 208. 

“My understanding is that he doesn’t have that license,” Mangia said.

Bonnette told that Landmark in 2011 that the District 208 position would be his last interim superintendent job. On Sunday, he confirmed that he no longer is certified to work as a superintendent, but said he is open to helping the district any way he can.

“I certainly care about the district,” the 74-year-old Bonnette said. “If I can be of help, fine, and if not, well, that’s fine too.”

District 96 has interviews scheduled on April 10 for the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction position and would like to its consultant in place by then, so the consultant is likely to be hired before the April 7 school board election.

“The earlier we get someone on board the better,” Mangia said.

New board members elected on April 7 will be invited to participate in interviews for the both the curriculum director position and the interim superintendent position, the press release stated.

Board member Art Perry said that he would prefer that a consultant not be hired until after the election. 

“I think that would look better, but I don’t know,” Perry said. “If there’s consensus on the board to move ahead then they will do that. This is a consultant. It’s a temporary thing. It’s not even an interim superintendent we’re talking about. At some level I’m not that concerned, but I do think it makes sense to have the new board involved.”

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