It’s now down to three.

This week the Riverside Elementary School District 96 Board of Education is conducting second interviews with three finalists for the superintendent position. Last week, the school board interviewed the six semifinalists, winnowing that group down to three.

After interviewing the last pair of semifinalists on Jan. 14, it didn’t take the board very long to decide upon the three finalists, school board President Jeff Miller said.

“I think we had a consensus within a half an hour, but I think we were fully satisfied within an hour,” Miller said. “After people talked it over, I think we were all on board with the final three.”

This week the school board will interview the three finalists on three successive nights in a private meeting room at the Drake Hotel in Oak Brook. Before their interviews, each of finalists will go out to dinner with the school board, giving board members a chance to evaluate the finalists in a more informal setting. 

Before heading out to Oak Brook, each of the finalists will spend the afternoon of their interview day in the district. Each finalist will be given a tour of the district and the community, see the schools and meet with a 12-member advisory committee that will provide feedback on the finalists to the board.

The confidential advisory committee will consist of five parents and district staff including central office staff, principals and teachers. District officials, who are keen on preserving the confidentiality of the hiring process, refused to reveal the identity of the parents who are serving on the advisory committee.

Sometime after the interview with the last finalist on Thursday evening, perhaps that very night, the board will meet and make its pick. Miller declined to put a time frame on when the board would make its choice, but the board is expected to act as quickly — mindful that candidates could be interviewing for other jobs. But Miller said that the board would not be rushed with this important decision.

“We all want to make a good decision, and so we’re really focused on that and we’re going to take our time … and make sure we make the best decision possible for the community,” Miller said. “That’s the goal we’re focused on and we all agree on that.”

Once the board decides on its top pick a couple final steps will be still need to be completed before that person is announced. A couple school board members will visit the current district of the top choice to further vet the pick and look for any new information that might cause the board to rethink its choice. Then the board must negotiate a contract with its prospective superintendent.

The board is expected to formally vote on and introduce the new superintendent, who would start work in District 96 on July 1, in February.