Raphael Obafemi is leaving District 65.

The exit lane out of School District 65 headquarters is getting more crowded.

Raphael Obafemi, chief financial officer for the past six years, has submitted his resignation, effective August 31.

Obafemi becomes the fourth central office administrator to depart the Evanston/Skokie district so far this year.

Superintendent Devon Horton took a superintendency with a larger district in DeKalb County, Georgia, Dean of Climate and Culture Elijah Palmer left to work with Horton, and Assistant Superintendent Andalib Khelghati is now superintendent of Oswego, Illinois, schools.

Horton helped place Khelghati in his new position, serving as a paid consultant for Oswego while still working for District 65, something the D65 board of education said was permissible.

Obafemi tells Evanston Now he has accepted a position as CFO at Oswego District 308.  He will be working for his former D65 colleague, Andalib Khelghati.

In a statement from District 65, spokesperson Hannah Hoffmeister said that Obafemi “has been an integral part of our team,” and “brought a depth of knowledge and commitment to equitable and fiscally responsible practices that have set the District on a stable, durable financial path.”

Hoffmeister noted that under Obafemi’s leadership, District 65’s finance team earned the highest possible rating from the Illinois State Board of Education.

Obafemi, along with Horton, was the financial architect of how to pay for the new 5th Ward School without raising taxes, but also without having to get voter approval.

District 65 is using what are called “lease certificates,” a different way of borrowing money for the $40 million school than the more common issuance of bonds.

District 65 leaders have said the $3.2 million in annual interest and fees on the certificates will be covered by savings in transportation costs, once the new school opens and district boundaries are redrawn to significantly reduce the need for busing.

However, critics have questioned whether those savings will really be enough to cover the interest without eating into other District 65 spending priorities.

Obafemi was able to get a lower-than-expected interest rate on the 5th Ward financing package.

The other empty administrative positions have already been filled, either temporarily or permanently.

Assistant Superintendent Angel Turner was named interim superintendent for the next year, taking Horton’s position while the school board searches for a permanent replacement.

Cheryl Jones-McLeod, who just started yesterday, is the new dean of climate and culture, replacing Palmer.

Biographical information for Jones-McLeod was not available, although it appears she is likely an outside hire, as her name was not previously listed on the D65 staff roster.

Hoffmeister also told Evanston Now that the job which Khelghati had filled on an interim basis, executive chief human resources officer, has also been filled, although the name has not been released yet, as that individual has still not started on the job.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Join the Conversation


  1. On their way out before the budget hits the fan? Before a new regime has to sift through the books? Before negotiations with the new teachers contract begin?
    Curiouser and curiouser…

  2. “Obafemi, along with Horton, was the financial architect of how to pay for the new 5th Ward School without raising taxes, but also without having to get voter approval.”
    And therein lies his legacy. Finding a creative way to get Horton’s pet project done without taxpayer approval. Jeff Skilling would be proud

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