Park Forest, Schools

SD 163 Approves Contract Of New Superintendent

Dr. Caletha White, SD 163, Park Forest, Chicago Heights, schools
Dr. Caletha White addresses board members, family, friends, and others attending Wednesday’s meeting of the Board of Education. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The Board of Education of School District 163 approved a three-year superintendent contract Wednesday night for Dr. Caletha White. The district will pay Dr. White a starting salary of $182,462. She will serve as the superintendent designate effective July 1, 2018 and from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2021, she will serve as the superintendent of schools. During her year as superintendent designate, interim superintendent Dr. Joyce Carmine will continue to serve, mentoring Dr. White during her year as superintendent designate.

Dr. Carmine’s salary, approved in January, will be $120,000. She is currently paid but currently has no contract. Dr. Carmine says she elected to retire and remained on as interim superintendent while the Board conducted a search for a new superintendent. Dr. White is currently listed on the district’s website as Assistant Superintendent Instructional Services.

Board member Margaret McDannel told eNews Park Forest the search for a new superintendent included focus groups that included parents, teachers, and administrators. The board interviewed the four candidates who the focus groups rated highest.

Dr. Carmine invited Dr. White to address the Board after her contract was approved.

“I’m looking forward to our journey ahead as we work collectively and collaboratively to implement a shared vision,” she said. “I’m excited about leading our administrative team and our staff, and continuing to engage our parents, our community, and provide excellent educational environments for our students. I appreciate your belief in my ability to lead, and I’m excited to begin our journey. Thank you for this opportunity to serve.”

Friends and family members of Dr. White were in attendance at the meeting and applauded warmly after she spoke.

Dr. White told eNews Park Forest she feels excited and ready to serve, “I feel like I have a community of educators here that continue in excellence. I’m glad to be a part of that team leading it.”

Her immediate plans? “I’m going to work alongside my mentor here, Dr. Carmine, as we continue to have a transition in leadership so that we have smooth and consistent plans in place for our staff, students, and community.”

“Dr. White has been working alongside me for the past 14 years, I believe,” Dr. Carmine added. “She was principal at 21st Century at Algonguin. Then she moved into the District level office position where she’s been the director of grants and instructional services. She was recently named assistant superintendent of grants and instructional services.”

“Her vision has been a part of the District vision for many years,” Dr. Carmine continued. “She’s very creative, she’s very intelligent, and she will be a strong leader. We’re proud of the things we’ve done together over the years with our teachers. I think she will take that vision that we’ve had to a new height, and continue to bring great things to the community of Park Forest.”

When Dr. Carmine was first hired as superintendent, she was mentored for a year by Dr. Jean Bernstein. Dr. Bernstein died in October 2015 at the age of 90.

In both cases, that of Dr. Carmine and Dr. White, District 163 hired individuals who had not been prior superintendents. “I came here with no superintendent experience, and Jean Bernstein was instrumental in giving me support and teaching me so many things in this multifaceted job.”

Dr. Carmine will only be able to work 100 days under her contract that begins July 1.

“That’s $120,000, and I’m going to tell you something: it’s well spent,” board member Margaret McDannel said. McDannel at 88 is the longest-serving member of the Board of Education. She says she has known every superintendent who has served the district since 1959. She spoke very highly of Dr. Joyce Carmine, saying of the previous superintendents, “none came close” to the skills and expertise of Dr. Carmine.

The challenge of following Dr. Carmine now belongs to Dr. Caletha White.

Related: SD 163: Home of the Richest Superintendent in Illinois

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