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Two finalists for District 64 superintendent named; will meet with public

<p>Laurie Heinz &nbsp;| &nbsp;File</p>
 Robert Machak

Two suburban administrators have been identified as the finalists in Park Ridge-Niles School District 64’s search for a new superintendent.

The candidates are Laurie Heinz, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction with Skokie School District 68, and Robert Machak, superintendent of Evergreen Park Elementary School District 124.

Both candidates are scheduled to visit several schools in the district this week and meet throughout the day with various groups, including principals, union representatives, various school support staff, parents and the public, said School Board President Anthony Borrelli.

Machak will meet with the public on Thursday, Jan. 9. Heinz’s meeting with members of the community has been rescheduled from Jan. 7 to Friday, Jan. 10 due to this week’s weather.

The community meetings will take place from 10:30 to 11 a.m. at Emerson Middle School, 8101 N. Cumberland Ave. in Niles, and from 5:30 to 6 p.m. at Lincoln Middle School, 200 S. Lincoln Ave. in Park Ridge. District 64 is inviting parents and the public to meet the candidates in person and there will be an opportunity to ask questions, Borrelli said.

After the meetings, attendees will be invited to leave written comments about the candidates for members of the school board, Borrelli added.

Heinz has been assistant superintendent with District 68 since July 2011. She was involved in the implementation of a new math curriculum, Focus in Math, which is based on a program from Singapore that focuses on the concepts used to arrive at answers.

Before she joined District 68, Heinz served as principal with Northbrook School District 27. There, she led Shabonee School for three years, and Grove School, which has since closed, for six years. Heinz has also been an assistant principal in Palatine, and a teacher in Vernon Hills and Glenview.

Heinz holds two master’s degrees and a doctorate from National Louis University. She said she has set her sights becoming on superintendent for more than a decade.

“My end game has always been to be a superintendent,” Heinz told the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate. “The time is right. I’ve had three great years here [with District 68] and I’m looking to make the move. I feel ready.”

Heinz described District 64 has having “a reputation for high achievement,” much like the districts in which she has worked. She added that she is “impressed” by the school support she has seen from members of the Park Ridge-Niles community.

“I feel it’s a good fit,” Heinz said. “I want to work where education matters.”

If she is not selected as District 64’s new superintendent, Heinz said she plans to remain with Skokie District 68.

Machak became superintendent of Evergreen Park District 124 in July 2012. During his tenure, district teachers went on strike for two weeks in the fall of 2012 after failing to agree on a contract with the board of education.

Before joining District 124, Machak was superintendent of Emmons Elementary School District 33 in Antioch for four years. He was also principal at Field Middle School in Northbrook for a decade and an assistant principal in Vernon Hills for a year. He has also been an English teacher at Mundelein High School and Forest Academy in Des Plaines.

Machak has a doctorate degree from National Louis University. He was not available for comment.

The District 64 School Board interviewed six candidates for superintendent before narrowing the list down to the two finalists.

“The two finalists, we felt, have most of the qualities we’re looking for,” Borrelli said. “They have the proper expertise, the proper leadership. Either of these finalists are excellent candidates.”

The board plans to meet in closed session with each candidate following their day-long visits within the district in order to have “a serious heart-to-heart with these candidates and find out what make them tick, so to speak, so we can make the best possible decision on behalf of District 64,” Borrelli said.

The board will then vote to hire the next superintendent, though whether this will occur on Friday night or next week is not yet known.

The candidates for superintendent were presented to the board by the search firm BWP & Associates, which was hired by the district in September, shortly after District 64 Superintendent Philip Bender publicly announced his plans to step down at the end of the 2013-14 school year. Bender was hired by District 64 in 2010.

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