MADISON (WKOW) -- As reported first Friday on wkow.com, Madison school board members picked Chicago Public Schools administrator Jennifer Cheatham as the next superintendent of schools, after a much-criticized selection process.
"Jennifer Cheatham is a visionary leader with an excellent track record on narrowing the achievement gap," Board President James Howard released in a statement.
Cheatham became the lone, remaining final candidate for the position, when Springfield, Illinois schools superintendent Walter Milton withdrew, as revelations mounted over his past hiring practices, finances, and resume.
Cheatham spoke to more than one hundred people at a Thursday community forum, addressing a range of educational issues.
Board member Marj Passman told 27 News Cheatham also fielded several rounds of additional questions during a closed door, board meeting following the forum. "She was impressive," Passman told 27 News.
"I consider it an honor and privilege to serve the Madison community," Cheatham said in a statement. "I look forward to working together to ensure that every child attends a thriving school to prepare them for college and career."
Executive Director Lesley Ann Howard of the United Way of Dane County told 27 News her organization's partnership with the school district on student tutoring and other programs will be bolstered by Cheatham's stated plans and past expertise. "Curriculum, teacher training, working with principals, and using (progress) measurement."
Chatham's tenure with Chicago Public Schools includes last year's teacher's strike.
Madison Teachers Inc. president John Matthews told 27 News he's spoken with Cheatham and found her "open" to ideas.
Matthews described relations between the district's more than 2,500 teachers and the district "broken," but said he's hopeful of improving labor relations with the in-coming superintendent. The teachers' current contract expires next June, and barring court intervention, teachers will lose nearly all bargaining power as a result of 2011's passage of Act 10. The law limiting collective bargaining rights was protested for weeks at the state capitol by hundreds of Madison teachers and other workers.
Cheatham and school board members must still reach agreement on contract terms. The position was advertised with a salary of more than $200,000 at the top of range.
Madison.com reported Friday school officials have yet to release the names of several superintendent candidates interviewed last week, in addition to Cheatham and Milton. The school district paid a search firm more than $30,000 to recruit candidates, and the firm's work was brought into question, as board members were confronted with continuing revelations about Milton's career.
The Madison Metropolitan Board of Education has confirmed what a source told 27 News late Friday morning. Chicago schools administrator Jennifer Cheatham has been hired as Madison's next schools superintendent, pending contract negotiations.
Cheatham was the lone finalist for the superintendent position, after another finalist candidate withdrew his name from consideration this week.
Cheatham spoke to more than 100 people at the Monona Terrace Convention Center Thursday night, answering questions about her educational philosophy and career.
Visit www.wkow.com and watch 27 News at 5 and 6 for more on this developing story.
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