CHAMPAIGN — The school district will have a new executive director for business services next year, but the person hired is a familiar face.
The Champaign school board voted unanimously at its Monday meeting to hire current Bottenfield Elementary Principal Matt Foster to fill the business position starting July 1. He replaces late Chief Financial Officer Gene Logas, who died in June.
Foster will earn $122,450 in the new position.
Board member Jamar Brown said he knows Foster because Brown's child attended Bottenfield.
"I am sad to see you leave the building. You've done a great thing at Bottenfield," Brown said, adding that he's glad Foster is staying in the district.
Board President Stig Lanesskog said he hopes Foster will be able to continue the "great practices" Mr. Logas started.
"We put our trust in you," he said.
Foster has a master's degree in business administration, a bachelor's in elementary education and a master's in educational administration from Illinois State University. He also has chief school business official certification, as well as teaching and administrative certificates.
He's also pursing a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Illinois, as well as designations as an Illinois Association of School Business Support Professional and Educational Facilities Management Professional.
"Strong financial leadership is essential for us to thrive as a district and was at the forefront of our search," Superintendent Dr. Judy Wiegand said in a news release about Foster's hire. "Foster's strong school finance background and commitment to serving the families of Unit 4 set him apart from the other candidates in our search."
The board also voted unanimously at its Monday meeting to extend Wiegand's contract by one year until June 30, 2017.
The board set Wiegand's salary at $182,500 for next school year. Her salary this year is $180,000.
Board President Stig Lanesskog said Wiegand didn't want a raise, but the board felt it was important to reflect that it was happy with her performance and the direction in which she's leading the district.
Board member Phil Van Ness said there has been talk about whether the current board should extend Wiegand's contract with an election so near, but "current boards always tie the hands of future board members, because it is the nature of the job."
The board will get three new members following the April election.
Board member Kristine Chalifoux said members of this board evaluated Wiegand after her first full year as superintendent, so it's up to them to extend her contract.
"If the new board and the remaining people on the board want to change things, that can happen at a later date," Chalifoux said.
Chalifoux and several other board members expressed their satisfaction with Wiegand's performance during the meeting.
"I've been thrilled with the way you've done," she told Wiegand. "I'm very pleased to be able to move forward with extending your contract."
The board also approved a request for 12.5 new staff positions that include teachers, support employees and staff for new programs that the administration plans to recommend but that the board has not yet formally approved.
Wiegand said staff members for those programs will not be hired until the board approves them. The new employees will cost the district about $550,000.
Also Monday, interim business manager Joe Davis gave the board a presentation on a preliminary budget for next school year.
On paper, it looks as if the district expects to spend about $540,000 more than it brings in, at least at this point.
However, the district may lease four school buses, so the preliminary budget includes a $320,000 expenditure for those. However, they'll be paid for over several years, so Davis said a closer estimate to its budget deficit is $220,000.
Davis emphasized that there are many uncertainties to predicting next year's budget, including state and federal funding and possible changes to teacher pensions.
The board also approved a reduction in force for several educational-support employees. Executive Director of Human Resources Ken Kleber said 6.5 positions are being cut because of unsecured grants, 2.5 because they were temporary hires and two because their specific positions may not be needed next year.