A week after School Supt. Joe Tieman stunned the Community Unit School District 7 Board of Education by announcing his retirement, board members voted 5-2 Wednesday night to hire current Gillespie High School Principal Shane Owsley to step into the superintendent’s position as of July 1.
The board was in open session for only five minutes, meeting remotely through the Zoom video conferencing system due to precautions in place during the Covid-19 outbreak. In one of the more surreal moments, Board President held a small American flag to the camera so board members could recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Board members voted 5-2 to hire Owsley as District Superintendent “pending certification,” effective July 1. Tieman’s resignation for purposes of retirement takes effect June 30. Board member Weye Schmidt moved to hire Owsley, with a second from Bill Carter.
Both Dennis Tiburzi and Jenni Alepra voted “no,” with Hayes, Carter, Schmidt, Becky Hatlee and Don Dobrino voting “yes.”
In a follow-up action, the board voted unanimously to post a vacant position for high school principal.
“I want to explain why I’m voting ‘no’,” Alepra told the board. “I support Shane Owsley 110 percent in this position. I’m voting against the haste and the process we’re taking to make this choice. I don’t feel we have the correct support in place for this new candidate. My vote is ‘no’.”
After the final vote was tallied, Schmidt countered Alepra’s remarks, arguing it was necessary to quickly hire a superintendent to facilitate the search for a new high school principal.
“It’s critical,” Schmidt said. “We’re looking for a high school principal. That process needs to get underway because school starts in two and a half months. We need to find a high school principal.”
Schmidt said the board is in agreement Owsley will “do a fantastic job.” Whether the board hired a consultant, hired an interim superintendent or hired Owsley outright, Schmidt said, the board is committed to “giving Shane the support he needs” to be successful.
Alepra agreed that Owsley has the full support of the board but criticized the process used for hiring him.
“That’s something we should already have in place,” she said. “We don’t need to put the cart before the horse.”
Owsley was hired by the district in April 2017 to replace Lori Emmons as high school principal. A resident of Carlinville, he had previously worked three years as dean of students at the North Mac School District in Virden/Girard.