Unit 4 CFO leave Lockman

Champaign school district CFO Tom Lockman told News-Gazette Media on Tuesday, July 2, 2019, that the district has placed him on indefinite administrative leave.

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CHAMPAIGN — While its chief financial officer remains on paid leave, the Champaign school district has spent more than $17,000 for an outside consultant to help manage its finances this summer.

Peoria-area consultant Guy Cahill has been working with Unit 4 since late May, providing financial services at a rate of $750 per five-hour day worked.

Cahill’s first contract with the district, approved at a June 10 school board meeting, called for him to work “until the end of June.”

But after Unit 4 CFO Tom Lockman was placed on leave on June 17 — and Superintendent Susan Zola drafted a recommendation to fire him at a July 8 school board meeting — Cahill’s work extended past the end of June.

To date, Cahill has been paid $17,707 for his services from May 21 to June 28, Unit 4 spokesman John Lyday said.

Lyday said that total doesn’t reflect a “pending” invoice for Cahill’s services past that date.

Meanwhile, Lockman said he remains on administrative leave — he’s still being paid but not actively working for the district — and still hasn’t received an explanation for the move.

“Despite having been placed on leave by Dr. Zola more than two months ago, I still have not been provided with any explanation for this decision,” Lockman said in a statement to News-Gazette Media. “Further, despite the board having now met three times since Dr. Zola notified me she would be recommending termination of my employment, this recommendation has not been presented for action.”

Lockman said he believes his role in documenting, addressing and publicizing rampant spending by Unit 4 employees on district-issued purchasing cards is what prompted the decision to put him on leave.

But documents obtained by News-Gazette Media this summer via an open-records request show that Zola expressed concerns about Lockman’s job performance on at least two occasions prior to placing him on leave.

In a May 6 memo to Lockman, Zola wrote: “I have lost confidence in your ability to provide me with clear, accurate and timely information to support my leadership of the district.”

Meanwhile, Cahill is slated to continue working for the district at the daily rate, this time with no set end date. Per the new contract — approved at an Aug. 12 school board meeting and signed this week by board President Amy Armstrong and Cahill — his services extend “from July 1, 2019, until terminated by one or both parties.”


Lyndsay Jones is a reporter covering education at The News-Gazette. Her email is ljones@news-gazette, and you can follow her on Twitter (@__lyndsayjones).