By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
Ray families will have to wait even longer before they get a new principal.
Ray Elementary School’s new local school council held its first organizational meeting July 1. The group also held a second meeting to vote on the next steps in it principal selection process, where they decided to start the process over.
The previous local school council (LSC) at Ray, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., was unable to make a final decision on a principal candidate last school year and voted to leave the decision up to the new LSC. The current LSC, which has all new members, except for community member Don Willard and teacher member Gabriel Sheridan, presented three principal selection options. The options included offering a contract to the last remaining candidate, Lisa Dallacqua, who was in attendance; restarting the principal search process or choosing someone from the pool of candidates chosen by the principal selection committee (PSC).
The council voted seven to zero with three abstentions to restart the principal search.
“We thought this out very carefully and we think this is the best process,” said new LSC member Silvia Ellis. “As a body we will be more involved and more transparent, letting people know each step. That will help us move forward smoothly.”
Although it’s late in the year for a principal search and most of the school’s previous choices have found new assignments, Hyde Park’s Chief of Schools Harrison Peters said the district has recent graduates from its principal program so the LSC has “fresh, new principal candidates to choose from now.”
Peters said there are currently three schools in the network he presides over that are searching for principals.
New LSC co-vice chairwoman Kara Scott thanked Dallacqua for her dedication to the school’s selection process.
“I want to thank Ms. Dallacqua for sticking through the process with the forum and community meetings,” Scott said. “I know it was a tough process. We feel at this time we need to open the process up again.”
During public comments community members and parents gave their advice to the new council about the process.
Gary Ossewaarde, member of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Schools Committee, said the Ray LSC’s extensive process seems to get in the way of its selection options.
“Part of problem is that the process has been so cumbersome,” Ossewaarde said. “Due diligence is necessary but you lose diverse candidates once you winnow things down because they want jobs.”
Bill Schmidt, Ray parent and former LSC secretary, said the LSC should take the reigns when screening candidates.
“Consider keeping this as an LSC function,” Schmidt said. “[There were] difficult interfaces between the principal screening committee and LSC. Consider the process of taking it on yourself since you’re the ones who have to vote.”
Ray parent Tim May, former co- vice chairman of the LSC who served as chairman of the last PSC, said more transparency was needed.
“Having a PSC and LSC wasn’t so bad but there was some difficulty with providing clarity on internal discussions,” May said. “It would have helped to provide the community with detailed information.”
The Ray LSC, which also includes chairwoman Denise Hill, co-vice chairwoman Sarah Ogeto, Paula Florell and Michael Carter, will meet at 6 p.m. second Thursdays of each month. However, the council is holding its next meeting on a special day, Monday, Aug. 25, in order to prepare for the new school year.