The DeKalb School District 428 board on Tuesday voted 7-0 to approve Minerva Garcia-Sanchez as the new superintendent, with her three-year term effective July 1.
Garcia-Sanchez will take over for interim superintendents Griff Powell and Ray Lechner, who have been in the role since Jamie Craven announced his resignation in April.
After the vote passed, the board erupted in applause over the virtual meeting.
“I’m elated and excited for what this means for me and our communities together,” Garcia-Sanchez said. “I can’t wait to listen to the voices out in the field and take this district to the next level. I appreciate all the work it took to get us here and I promise it’s going to be worth the ride.”
According to her contract, Garcia-Sanchez will earn $210,000 annually. It is able to be renewed after Jan. 1, 2024. She will also receive a $2,500 automobile allowance.
Garcia-Sanchez currently serves as the Pilsen/Little Village chief of schools, a position she has held since 2015.
Board president Sarah Moses said Garcia-Sanchez’s hiring was the culmination of a long process.
“Minerva, we are thrilled to bring you on,” Moses said after the vote passed. “We are very excited to do this new endeavor with you and do what is best for kids in our district and our community. ... We are thrilled to bring you on with a 7-0 vote.”
Garcia-Sanchez has held multiple principal positions and was recruited to be deputy chief of the Gage Park Community Network before receiving a promotion to the Pilsen/Little Village chief of schools in July 2015. Garcia-Sanchez is completing her doctorate in urban education policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and has a master’s degree in instructional leadership from Chicago State.
She is believed to be the first woman, district officials said, to be superintendent of the district and is at least the second minority superintendent after Brian Ali in the early 2000s.
Powell is acting as an interim superintendent for the 10th time in his career. He said like the other nine times, the new superintendent will be active in the role before her term starts.
“We’ll start to put together a transition plan with her so when July 1 comes along she feels confident to take leadership in the district,” Powell said. “She’ll make all major decisions for the fiscal year 2022 school year. Any staffing or new programs she’ll be involved in. Even though she’s not in place she’ll work with Ray and I to take over in July 2021.”
Powell said he and Lechner kept themselves removed from the selection process, leaving it up to the board.
“I don’t know her at all, there’s been no judgment,” Powell said. “I look forward to getting to know her and work with her.”
When taking part in a community forum last month, Garcia-Sanchez said the district’s diversity plan was something that stood out to her in wanting to pursue the position.
She said one of the things she would like to see is students being advocates for themselves.
“I’d like to develop an advisory of students that can really give me feedback,” Garcia-Sanchez said. “Advisory might be a little broken up based on grade levels, but it would be inclusive of all our students, so I’m hearing all of them, and they can speak with the advocacy voice and empathy to reach people that make the decisions.”
This is a developing story which will be updated as more information becomes available.