Jon Lamberson, superintendent of Riverside Public Schools in Illinois, completed a day-long interview within on Monday for the position of superintendent.
He met with teachers, parents and administrators. Following that, there was a public Q&A and a formal interview with the board.
“After a long day you showed remarkable grace. I’d be falling asleep,” joked board chair Mark Spurr.
Lamberson leads a five-building district in the suburbs of Chicago that has seen marked growth, which he attributes to the district’s achievement.
He said the district’s demographics have changed alongside that growth, and have transitioned from being more than 90 percent white to about 60 percent white, 30 percent Latino.
Finance, Achievement Gap Philosophy
Lamberson addressed questions from the board ranging from his approach toward administrative assessments to marketing.
Board member Dewayne Dill asked about his budget philosophy, citing a large reserve built over time in the Riverside district.
Lamberson said he does not like surprises in finances, and will underestimate revenue and overestimate expenditures while trying to anticipate variables such as the state Legislature and enrollment even many years in advance. “I do not like just arriving at the future. “
Board member Pat Barnum asked about how his experience could be used to address the district’s achievement gap.
Lamberson said it starts with educating teachers, and the focus should be on learners, not on particular demographic groups. “Students recognize pretty quickly what you think they can do.”
As for why he’s considering leaving the Riverside School District, he said it has minimal administration, which puts pressure on the superintendent to put in long hours to maintain the high level of achievement reached under his tenure.
He said he’s looking forward to the resources in District 197, in particular, the people that support the schools.
“I won’t lack for things to do, won’t lack for things to think about, but I see it being incredibly rewarding,” said Lamberson.
The board will interview two more finalists, Dr. Nancy Allen-Mastro, an assistant superintendent in Bloomington Public Schools and Sharon Freeman, an assistant superintendent in Saint Paul Public Schools, on Tuesday and Wednesday. The board is scheduled to select their final choice Wednesday night, pending contract negotiations. Profiles are available on the District 197 website.