GALENA, Ill. — Galena public school board members voted this week to appoint two people to serve as interim superintendents, while the board works to find a permanent replacement.
Steve Bianchetta and Craig Mathers will each cover two days of the week. They will start on Tuesday, Nov. 12.
They will fill a vacancy created with the resignation of Superintendent Greg Herbst, whose last day is Monday, Nov. 11.
Herbst previously cited a “wave of resistance” from the teachers’ union in his efforts to reduce district expenditures as a primary reason for his move.
Bianchetta, a former superintendent of the Scales Mound school district, served as the Galena district’s interim superintendent in the 2015-2016 school year after then-Superintendent Sharon Olds died following a brief battle with cancer.
Mathers served as superintendent of West Carroll school district for eight years before retiring in 2016.
School board President Chuck Korte said the interim superintendents will work on separate days but will coordinate to oversee the district. They will be paid $550 for each day they work.
Herbst’s annual salary was $140,000.
The two are contracted to work for the school district for the remainder of the school year. Korte said board members aim to hire a new permanent superintendent by July 1. However, he added that it could take longer than anticipated.
“I do know that some schools are having a hard time finding a superintendent,” Korte said. “We hope to have one hired as soon as possible.”
Bianchetta said he is glad to return to the district and pitch in while a search for a full-time leader is conducted.
“I had a good experience the first time,” Bianchetta said. “We’ll make sure the school district operates as sufficiently and effectively as possible.”
Also this week, school board members discussed their strategy for finding a new superintendent.
In examining what qualities they wished to see in such a candidate, all board members agreed that the person needs to be able to work effectively with staff and the teachers’ union.
“We need the right personality to bring people together,” said Board Member Nikki Frank. “I want someone who is genuine.”
Some board members, including John Rosenthal and Mike Hyland, said the school district might be better served by a younger superintendent that could better relate to younger staff.
However, Board Vice President Tom Long said he feels someone with experience will be needed to help address the district’s many ongoing issues.
“There’s a lot of stuff that needs to be figured out here,” Long said. “I want someone who can handle that.”
Board members also discussed stakeholder groups that would be formed to interview superintendent candidates.
Board members agreed that three or four should be formed.
Along with the usual participants, Korte said, extra effort should be made to include members of the teachers’ union and the local Hispanic population.
Korte said he hopes the board can make a final decision on its superintendent search strategy by the end of a special meeting planned for Wednesday, Nov. 13.