New principal hired for District 64's Jefferson Early Childhood Center

Park Ridge-Niles School District 64's preschool is getting a new principal.

Michele Barkley has been named the next principal at Jefferson Early Childhood Center in Niles, effective July 1. The current principal, Lisa Halverson, is retiring.

"We are thrilled to welcome Ms. Barkley to the Jefferson Early Childhood Center," Superintendent Eric Olson said in a news release. "Her wealth of experiences, connection with staff and her passion for early childhood all came through strongly in the interview process."

The District 64 school board hired Barkley Thursday night. She will start with a $111,500 base salary.

Barkley has been the coordinator of early learning in Antioch School District 34 since 2019.

She previously served as the assistant principal for the Special Education District of Lake County, as a special-education teacher and as director of student services in Winthrop Harbor District 1.

Barkley was among 23 applicants for the post. Five were interviewed by a District 64 administrative committee, and two finalists were reinterviewed by a different committee that included staffers and parents.

Formerly known as Jefferson School, the facility became the Jefferson Early Childhood Center last year as part of districtwide renovations that accompanied the addition of full-day kindergarten classes throughout the district.

Nearly 130 students attend Jefferson.

Halverson is among several administrators departing District 64. Olson is leaving this summer as are Lori Lopez, the district's assistant superintendent for student learning, and MJ Warden, the director of innovation and technology.

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Lisa Halverson is the outgoing Jefferson Early Childhood Center principal in District 64 Courtesy of District 64
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