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County regional superintendent search continues

McHenry County administrators have identified a candidate to fill the long-vacated position of regional superintendent of schools — the trick now, obtaining the OK to move ahead with the appointment.

The position has been vacant since June after outgoing regional superintendent Gene Goeglein retired a month early. Assistant superintendent Joe Williams, his elected Republican successor, later turned down the position due to the fact it was unpaid.

Little interest was shown in the position early on because it was unpaid, according to County Administrator Peter Austin. After funding was restored during the fall veto session, the majority of candidates were then turned away because they did not meet the qualifications needed to apply.

“It’s been a real challenge filling this role,” County Administrator Peter Austin said. “With these tough requirements, you really are targeting current professionals who won’t necessarily want to leave their jobs, or retirees.”

The open slot came shortly after Gov. Pat Quinn’s decision to eliminate funding for the 44 state regional offices, including superintendents, from the state budget. That changed in November, when legislators approved funding the position for the remainder of the fiscal year — through June.

The county has had a dozen applicants thus far, the majority of whom didn’t meet all the criteria. The Lake County Regional Office of Education has been assisting the county in fulfilling the state-mandated duties throughout the search process.

“We’ve been lucky to work with Lake County,” said County Board Chairman Ken Koehler, R-Crystal Lake. “There are certain things they do from the life, health and safety standpoint that have to be performed.”

Requirements include having a master’s degree, supervisory certificate and 20 semester hours at the post-graduate level, as well as having spent at least two of the last four years as a teacher or public school supervisor.

State election law also requires the candidate be from the same party as the previously elected official who declined the job, in this case a Republican. Those in office are restricted from holding any other job, and cannot collect pension from the Teachers’ Retirement System.

“I understand the qualifications, but they seem a little over the top,” Koehler said.

The most recent candidate meets all of requirements, and lives in McHenry County, but the Lake County regional office covers the school district within the area he lives, which is against State Board of Elections guidelines, Koehler said.

The county is awaiting some clarification from legal counsel at the State Board of Education and State Board of Elections as to whether they can appoint the candidate, according Austin.

Officials declined to name the candidate.

Salaries are being paid for from the personal property replacement taxes distributed to local governments each year.

Regional offices perform duties such as renewing teacher certificates, inspecting schools before they open and auditing school districts.

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