District 211 board members debated Thursday which course is the most appropriate as they start to prepare for the retirement of Superintendent Nancy Robb.
Robb will end her 5½-year tenure as the district's leader next spring.
On Thursday, school board members voted to hire a search firm, School Exec Connect, to help with the process.
But before that vote, they debated for close to an hour over whether to restrict the search to candidates already in the district.
Harry Rossi, the School Exec Connect representative at the meeting, said the board can limit their candidates to internal applicants.
They also can start with District 211 employees and then look outside if they want to see more candidates, or take applications from both internal and outside candidates at the same time, he said.
Robb said there's no need to look beyond District 211.
"We have people internally who are ready for this position," she said.
School administrators are trained to develop the skills needed in a superintendent, said board member Robert LeFevre Jr., who wants to keep the search in house.
Board member George Brandt added that asking outsiders to apply sends a negative message to District 211 employees -- that they're just not good enough.
Rossi said an internal search typically whittles down options to about two or three strong candidates.
But board member Mucia Burke said she's not sure that's fair to the taxpayers.
"I don't think I could look my neighbors in the face if I didn't look past two or three people," Burke said.
Board secretary Anna Klimkowicz said she feels "very uncomfortable" with limiting the search. She believes it's necessary to look at many qualified people to make sure board members choose wisely.
The board hopes to choose a new superintendent by the end of this summer and will hold a special, open meeting to determine how they will search for the replacement.