EDISON PARK — Edison Park Elementary School Principal Pete Zimmerman will step down at the end of the school year, officials said.
Zimmerman has led the school since 2008, when it became a neighborhood school open to all children who live within its attendance boundaries. Before then, the school accepted students based on test scores. Edison Regional Gifted Center is now in Albany Park.
Ginnie Flynn, a member of Edison Park Elementary's Local School Council, said Zimmerman would be missed.
Zimmerman said he plans to retire after 25 years with the Chicago Public Schools.
"I'm going to miss the students the most," Zimmerman said. "I'm the only principal many of these students have ever had."
Zimmerman plans to meet with each student and write them a personal message before the last day of school.
"I want to remember them, and I want them to remember me," Zimmerman said of the school's students. "I'm going to miss them very much. Being the principal of Edison Park has been the highlight of my professional career."
The council has narrowed down the search for Zimmerman's replacement to two finalists: Jason Major, who is the math instructional support leader for most of the schools on the Far Northwest Side; and Jenn Farrell, the principal of McCutcheon Elementary School in Uptown.
A forum set for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the school, 6220 N. Olcott Ave., will give parents and community members a chance to hear directly from the two finalists.
Flynn said both candidates were "oustanding."
Whoever is selected as Edison Park's new principal will have to cope with the "financial tsunami" engulfing the Chicago Public Schools.
Officials have warned principals to expect budget cuts of about 26 percent as city leaders continue to push state lawmakers to change the way schools are funded and close CPS' $1 billion budget deficit.
"I want to know how each of them would handle whatever body blow is coming down the pike next," Flynn said.
In 2013, McCutcheon was designated a "welcoming school" by district officials who shuttered Lyman Trumbull Elementary School in Andersonville, one of 54 schools closed by the Emanuel Administration.
In 2015, McCutcheon received the district's highest academic rating based on improvements made during Farrell's time as principal.
A nine-classroom, $14 million annex opened in 2014 at Edison Park Elementary School to relieve severe overcrowding.
The shift from a regional gifted center to a neighborhood school was designed in part to relieve overcrowding at Oriole Park Elementary School in Norwood Park and Ebinger Elementary School in Edison Park.
While an annex opened at Oriole Park in 2015, Ebinger remains severely overcrowded, according to district data.
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