FREEPORT (WREX) -
The school board appointed current Dakota School District Superintendent Michael Schiffman to take over as its super indent starting July 1st.
It's been a difficult year for Freeport schools. The district faced a shortfall of $1.8 million from the state leading to cuts and a push to increase the county sales tax.
On top of that, the superintendent, Roberta Selleck, resigned in September for reasons the board would not say publicly.
While the district has faced its challenges, Michael Schiffman says he is ready to take them on.
"Are there concerns for the Freeport school district? Absolutely," said Schiffman. "here's concerns for all the districts when you look at finance or achievement gap or whatever you want to look at. But those are things that we admit to and then those are things that we are going to start working positively to start finding solutions for."
Schiffman was appointed with a majority of the school board vote, but there were some members who were hesitant.
"Because Mr. Schiffman comes from a smaller district and has served in smaller districts diversity is a big issue for me," said FSD Board of Education President Janice Crutchfield. "We have a very diverse district and he does not have the understanding of diversity at this point."
Schiffman comes from the Dakota School District which has 870 students and two schools. Freeport has 4,050 students and 10 schools.
Schiffman says it will be a learning process.
"I told them through the interview process that the big thing with me is I'm a person that gets out and about," said Schiffman. "I'm a person that continues to learn different things, so I'm going to be in the buildings. There's no reason I can't do my work at Taylor Park School and that office rather than just doing it here at the office."
The school board voted 5 to 2 to select Schiffman as superintendent. One member abstained from the vote.
Schiffman, the current superintendent at the Dakota Community School District, was selected over the other finalist, Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat. Desmoulin-Kherat is the current associate superintendent at the Danville School District.
According to the Freeport School District, Schiffman grew up in the Freeport area and his parents still live in the community. He is a graduate of Highland Community College, Illinois State University and Western Illinois University.
Schiffman got his teaching start in Polo and then became an elementary school principal in the Forrestville Valley School District. He then moved on to be a principal at the junior-senior high school in Pearl City before becoming superintendent in Dakota.