DeKalb School District 428 Board approves new DHS principal

DeKALB – James Horne, assistant principal for academic programs at DeKalb High School, will become the school’s next principal after the DeKalb School District 428 Board unanimously approved his contract Thursday.

Board President Victoria Newport said 19 candidates were considered for the position, but the history Horne has had with the high school and the great relationships he has with staff and students made him a perfect fit.

“I’m excited, I’m thrilled and I look forward to being a part of DeKalb,” Horne said.

Horne's salary, which was set after reviewing the salaries of other principals within the Large Unit District
Association, will be slightly less than that of current Principal Michele Albano, whose contract was not renewed in February.

Newly elected board member Jeff Hallgren said he disagrees with hiring a principal before a full-time superintendent has been selected.

“It’s kind of like putting the cart before the horse,” Hallgren said. “Two outgoing members are making decisions for two oncoming board members, and I feel that’s inappropriate. Choosing a new principal less than a week before new board members come in is poor timing at best.”

However, he added that he felt Horne was a capable candidate.

Valerie Pena Hernandez, who also was elected to the board during the April 4 consolidated election, said that although she believes that the new board members should be involved in hiring decisions, she understands the urgency of filling these roles.

“I do believe a fresh look and a new perspective is ideal in the process of hiring individuals that will have such an important role, but I understand that some of these positions are time-sensitive and the more we wait, the less of a pool we can choose from,” Hernandez said. “From what I hear, James is a very involved individual and cares about the high school, and I wish him the best.”