During the its Feb. 12 meeting, members of the Oak Park Elementary School District 97 Board of Education voted to appoint a principal and accepted the resignation of another high-ranking administrator.
The board appointed Laura Zaniolo as permanent principal at Lincoln Elementary. Zaniolo replaces interim principal Theresa Silva and will start work on July 1.
The board also voted to accept the resignation of Laurie Campbell, the district's assistant superintendent for human resources. Campbell plans to retire in August after 33 years in education. She's the second top administrator to depart the district in less than two months.
Zaniolo will receive a one-year contract with a base salary of $117,490. For the Oak Park native, the appointment is a homecoming. Zaniolo attended Lincoln School, Emerson Middle School and Oak Park and River Forest High School.
She has bachelor's and master's degrees in teaching from Columbia College in Chicago and is pursuing her doctorate in urban education leadership at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
"Lincoln is a school where I loved to learn school and I had teachers who were fully supportive of me," Zaniolo told school board members. "I love to come back and deliver on the promise of a high-quality education for every single Lincoln student. I hold the community in such high regard and it truly is a privilege."
Before her appointment at Lincoln, Zaniolo was the assistant principal at Portage Park Elementary School in Chicago for two years. She's also served as a resident principal, instructional coach and science and math teacher for various schools in Chicago, where she currently lives.
In a statement the district released on Feb. 12, Zaniolo said that Lincoln "has had a special place in my heart for many years."
During the Feb. 12 meeting, Laurie Campbell said that Zaniolo was one of 54 applicants, 29 of whom were video-screened while eight were interviewed over the course of two days by panels of parents and staff members. From that field of candidates, three finalists were selected.
District 97 Superintendent Carol Kelley lauded Zaniolo's appointment, stating that "her strong instructional background, student-centered approach to learning, and extensive knowledge of Lincoln, our district and Oak Park" were among the qualities that factored into her hiring.
As Zaniolo comes on board, Campbell, the district's assistant superintendent for human resources, is leaving. Campbell, who was hired in 2016, announced that she plans on retiring in order to spend "lots of quality time with family and friends, and taking a long-awaited dream vacation to Africa."
In the district's statement, Kelley praised Campbell's contributions to the district.
"In her time here in Oak Park, she has helped increase the diversity of our workforce, strengthened our practices for recruitment, hiring and student registration, led the successful negotiation of several collective bargaining agreements with our employee groups, and implemented programs that have supported the growth and development of our faculty and staff. She has been an important and incredibly valued member of our team, and will be missed."
Kelley said that the search for Campbell's replacement will start immediately and that district officials will continue to search for someone to replace Amy Warke, who headed up District 97's teaching and learning department.
Warke resigned in January to become the superintendent for LaGrange Highlands School District 106.
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