David Bonnette

The Riverside District 96 Board of Education may hire an interim superintendent before new members of the school board are seated on May 5.

Last night at a special meeting, the school board voted 6 to 0 to hire the district’s former superintendent, David Bonnette, as a consultant to manage the search for someone to temporarily replace Superintendent Bhavna Sharma-Lewis who resigned last month and will leave the district June 30.

“Conceivably we could meet in late April to appoint an interim,” Bonnette told the school board Wednesday night. “I think the actual appointment is going to take place by this board.”

Bonnette, who will be paid $50 an hour for his work, laid out an aggressive plan to find and hire an interim superintendent, while three incoming members of the school board sat in the audience. Bonnette said he is tentatively aiming for final interviews for the interim superintendent to be conducted on April 28, adding he would keep the newly elected school board members in the loop about the process and allow them to participate in interviews, which would take place in closed session.

Bonnette said it was important to move quickly in order to hire the best person.

“There are other districts out there looking for interim superintendents as well, so we want to move as quickly as possible to get the best possible candidates,” Bonnette said.

The district already has 19 applicants for the interim superintendent position. Bonnette said he would immediately begin networking and making phone calls to drum up more applicants.

Interim superintendents are typically retired superintendents. It is possible that the school board could hire two retired superintendents to share the job. Retirees receiving pensions from the Illinois Teacher Retirement System can work no more than 100 days in a year and still receive their pensions.

“This limit of 100 days might make it necessary to hire a team of people,” Bonnette said.

Bonnette said he would not limit the search to retirees.

Jeffrey Miller, who won a two-year term on the school board in Tuesday’s election, said he was comfortable with the plan for the current board to make the hire as long as incoming board members were involved in the process.

“As long as we’re kept in the loop and we have a voice, which it sounds like they’re going to do, that’s fine,” Miller said after the meeting.

Shari Klyber, who as of Thursday morning had a 24-vote lead on incumbent Juliet Boyd for the third and final four-year term on the board, said that she was surprised by the speed of the process that Bonnette laid out.

“I was surprised by the expediency with this plan,” Klyber said.

A spokesman for the Cook County Clerk’s Office said Thursday afternoon that there are five provisional ballots that haven’t been figured into the final totals for the four-year term race.

In addition, the clerk’s office has not received 79 ballots it had mailed out to voters who requested them. The mail-in ballots must have been postmarked by April 6 to count.

A final official count won’t be ready for another couple of weeks as some of the mail-in ballots trickle in.

Bonnette, who is not interested in serving as interim superintendent himself, will also assist in interviews of candidates for the position of assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

Those interviews will take place April 10. That post needs to be filled because Brian Ganan, who serves in that position presently, is leaving the district on June 30 to become the superintendent of Komarek School District 94 in North Riverside.

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