District 65 offices at the JEH Education Center.

Help Wanted: Must be willing to cut the budget, close schools and face constant political scrutiny.

Who in the world would want that kind of job?

Apparently quite a few.

The head of the superintendent search firm for School District 65 told the Board of Education earlier this week that 27 people have started applications, but can’t complete them until the position is officially posted.

Patricia Sullivan-Viniard is in charge of the search. She works for the Illinois Association of School Boards, which was hired by D65 to find a permanent replacement for Devon Horton, who left after the end of the last school year to head a larger district in Georgia.

The search has already included an online survey for parents, staff, students and community members on their priorities for the new district leader and the most important issues the superintendent will face over the next few years.

Of the more than 600 responses, themes which resonated across all stakeholder groups, Sullivan-Viniard indicated, were finances, the 5th Ward School, equity work, declining enrollment, meeting students’ diverse needs and supporting/retaining educators.

The school board has to come up with a number of specifics soon, before the opening is “widely distributed and posted on websites,” Sullivan-Viniard noted.

One of those is whether the new superintendent will have to live in District 65 or not.

Another, of course, is the salary, or at least the salary range.

Devon Horton.

Horton was making $262,500 before he left for a higher paying job in a larger district.

It’s unknown if Interim Superintendent Angel Turner plans to apply for the permanent position.

The tentative search/hiring schedule proposed by the consultant would have a Jan. 6, 2024, application deadline, followed by screening and interviews over a series of different dates.

Board members have said they hope to name the new superintendent by the end of February.

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

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