It's been years since Morgan Park High School has been with steady leadership. Several principal searches have stopped and started leaving the school without a permanent leader.
The local school council is looking to change that as their search for a new principal has narrowed in on two candidates.
Three candidates were invited to speak at a forum last week that asked each to answer the same questions and lay out their plans for the school. At the end of the discussion, the council voted to keep two in the running.
The finalists are Carolyn Epps who is currently the principal at Marconi Elementary and Krystal Thomas the current assistant principal at Calhoun Elementary. The two candidates will undergo an interview with representatives of various departments within the school, as well as submit to a site visit at their current schools by council members.
Epps, who has 16 years of administrative experience, stressed the importance of allowing students to make a quick transition from elementary to high school and emphasized her experience in developing systems to began the process while students are still in middle school.
She said that it is important to "help these young people really grow up very quickly, and make the decisions that they need to make."
Epps also spoke of the need for a principal to develop a system in which the various factions of the school community are working together.
"Most of the time schools fail because they are not communicating,” Epps said.
Thomas is a 1990 graduate of Morgan Park herself. While currently an assistant principal, she was previously the principal of the School of Technology High School.
She stressed the need for a "rigorous curriculum that is career based” and her desire to restore or implement several new programs at the school.
Thomas said she is interested in developing a corporate council that would secure outside funds. She also wants to establish programs in areas like computer networking and software development that would partner with local colleges.
The local school council received a total of 11 resumes for the position, and nine were deemed eligible by CPS.
Carisa Parker, the chairperson of the local school board, says that a multifaceted rubric was used in narrowing down the candidates. She hopes the board can find a solid principal and then move on to other pressing issues.
"I think that we have some work to do in proving to the community that this still should be a school of choice," Parker said. "That we have great programs and that students will be safe when they come here."
Parker says the interview process is an intensive one and that there are still several rounds to go through before a final decision is made.
Ald. Matt O'Shea attended the forum and has remarked on the need for stable leadership at Morgan Park.
"They need a strong leader in place to began to chart a new course for Morgan Park," O'Shea said. "When they do select a new principal I welcome whoever he or she is and will help work to bring Morgan Park back to what it once was."
Morgan Park has a current student body of about 2,200. The new principal will be offered a four-year contract.