Unit 5 names 3 finalists for superintendent

2014-01-27T19:42:00Z 2014-01-28T08:42:01Z Unit 5 names 3 finalists for superintendentBy Maria Nagle | mnagle@pantagraph.com pantagraph.com
January 27, 2014 7:42 pm  • 

NORMAL — The McLean County Unit 5 school board will select from three male finalists — two from Illinois and one from Michigan — to replace retiring Superintendent Gary Niehaus.

One of the candidates, Todd J. Koehl, is familiar with the Twin Cities because he previously served as a Unit 5 high school English teacher and as a Bloomington District 87 high school assistant principal. He also earned degrees from Illinois State and Illinois Wesleyan universities.

The board chose the three after interviews Friday and Saturday with seven candidates and a special meeting “of deliberation and consensus building” on Sunday, board President John Puzauskas announced Monday on the school district’s website, www.unit5.org.

The semifinalists will be visiting the school district later this week. The schedule is:

•Todd Koehl, who has been superintendent of O’Fallon School District 90 in O’Fallon for four years, Thursday.

•Mark Daniel, superintendent for four years of Dowagiac Union Schools in Dowagiac, Mich., Friday.

•Michael Popp, executive director of kindergarten-through-12th-grade teaching and learning for Indian Prairie School District 204 in Aurora, Saturday.

In addition to a second interview with the board, each candidate will participate in separate panel interviews with a group of Unit 5 employees and community members. Late Monday, the district said Koehl's panel meeting will be 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. Thursday; Daniel's panel meeting, 5:15-6:15 p.m. Friday; and Popp's panel meeting, 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Saturday. All will be at Normal Community West High School.

“The board is very pleased with the caliber of candidates who took part in the initial interviews and looks forward to the finalists visiting the Unit 5 community in the coming days,” Puzauskas said.

Following the semifinalists’ visits the board will meet to discuss the interviews and reference checks, review input from the panel participants and select the candidate who best meets the district’s needs, he added.

Niehaus, who has headed the district since 2007, informed the board in October that he wanted to retire in June —a year earlier than previously planned — because of general uncertainty about public-sector pensions in Illinois and to allow for the new superintendent to work with the current board before the 2015 board elections.

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