LEXINGTON - Curt Nettles, principal of Lincoln Junior High School, has been named superintendent of the Lexington School District.
The announcement ends a five-month search to replace Brent McArdle, who is retiring after 36 years.
"The community should be honored with the quality of applicants that wanted to lead the district," said board member Bruce Klein. "We were looking for someone who could lead the district into the future - educationally and financially, and have a vision of where we are going. We also wanted someone who could be part of the community and be firm when necessary with excellent interpersonal skills."
Nettles, a 1989 graduate of Eastern Illinois University, has been principal of Lincoln Junior High for the past eight years. He oversaw building two schoolrooms and a construction referendum. He said the experience might come in handy as Lexington considers future growth issues.
"My wife (Jodi) and I are excited about the opportunity," said Nettles. "Lexington has a great reputation and is in good financial shape. I plan to continue the fine leadership and excellence the community is used to."
Nettles began his career as an English teacher at Beecher City Junior/Senior High School near Effingham. He also was athletic director and coached basketball and baseball before getting his master's degree. His administrative career began at Greenview High School in Menard County, where he worked for three years before joining Lincoln Junior High School.
Nettles and his wife have three children, Henry, Clayton and Levi.
McArdle started college as a music major, then switched to divinity training before graduating with a degree in philosophy. His love of working with kids led him into education.
"I didn't have a teaching degree, but there was a teacher shortage, so I was taught fourth and fifth grade in Bolingbrook for one year," said McArdle. He taught in Morris for four years before marrying his wife, Penny. The couple moved to Edinburg, where McArdle taught for seven years while they raised their three boys, Aaron, Jay and Phillip.
McArdle was Kincaid High School principal for four years and superintendent for five years before coming to Lexington, where he has spent 14 years.
In addition to leading the school's rebuilding efforts following a 2002 fire that caused $4.5 million in damage, McArdle has developed the preschool at-risk kids' program, tripled the special ed program, added technology and offered Heartland Community College courses.
"The thing that is unique about Lexington is the value the community puts on education," said McArdle. "They show that by their fine support of our teams - athletic and scholastic - and their willingness to pay additional taxes. They continue to have high expectations."
McArdle and his wife have no retirement plans. He will continue to work as hard as he can until he is done, then "we'll see what God wants us to do."