Superintendent's pending resignation looms over District 64 board meeting
The Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 board will meet Thursday night for the first time since embattled Superintendent Eric Olson announced he'll resign in June.
At the very least, the board is scheduled to discuss and possibly approve hiring a company to lead the search for Olson's successor. Whether Olson, board members or audience members will address Olson's decision isn't yet known.
No official statements are planned, a district spokesman said Wednesday.
Olson, who was hired in 2019, revealed his departure plans Monday in an email to parents and the media. He cited unspecified "irreconcilable differences" -- and there have been plenty of differences during his tenure.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, district officials were criticized by some members of the public -- and supported by others -- for the steps taken to prevent the virus from spreading in school buildings.
In September 2021, Park Ridge parents who were forced to pull their three children from school because the kids hadn't quarantined after a trip abroad sued the district.
The district's plans to launch all-day kindergarten classes and spend up to $38 million -- far more than initially estimated -- to expand school buildings also was a source of friction.
Most recently, at board meetings in November and December, parents called for Olson's firing over an aborted plan to reschedule a winter holiday concert to spring 2023 and other issues. Board member Phyllis Lubinski called the angry comments "bullying."
"Nobody wants to put up with that kind of behavior," Lubinski said.
Lubinski praised Olson for his work on the current kindergarten-related expansion project, COVID-19 prevention efforts and helping to hire talented administrators. She expects Olson will be snatched up by another district.
"It'll be our loss and somebody else's gain," Lubinski said.
Not everyone on the board was so effusive.
Board member Tom Sotos, who often found himself in the minority on controversial issues, said he wasn't surprised by Olson's resignation but declined to elaborate.
"I wish him well," Sotos said.
Olson has a $236,900 base salary for the current school year. He received a contract extension in 2022 that should have kept him in the district until at least 2025.
Thursday's meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. at Jefferson School, 8200 W. Greendale Ave., Niles.
The session will be open to the public, but it will begin with a closed-door discussion about employment and collective bargaining matters. Open discussions are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
The meeting can be viewed live online at youtube.com/@d64boemeetings/streams.