District Picksits Own New Schools Chief

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Byline: Bob Susnjara bsusnjara@dailyherald.com

Round Lake Area Unit District 116's elected board has selected the first superintendent to head the system since 2002, but she needs to clear one more hurdle before her hiring is official.

Oak Park Elementary District 97 Superintendent Constance Collins is in line to head the Round Lake area schools beginning July 1. She announced her pending departure to Oak Park Elementary's staff and community Monday.

District 116 board member Nanci Radford said Collins' knowledge of academics and ideas on how to improve parental and community involvement in the schools were among the reasons she's the preferred superintendent pick.

"We need someone that can come in and hit the ground running," Radford said.

Collins, 58, said she intends to stress data-driven decisions regarding District 116's academics. Her accomplishments in Oak Park include creation of new teacher evaluation methods and launching a popular full-day kindergarten at all schools.

"You know, I believe Round Lake is at a tipping point, and they have overcome a lot of challenges," Collins said Tuesday. "I think the last rung is student achievement."

District 116's financial affairs have been handled by a special state finance authority for the past eight years. In January, the state panel recommended it end its oversight and return power to District 116's elected school board.

As part of regaining local control, the school board agreed Monday to hire Collins for the 2010-11 academic year. …