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NORMAL — Jim Hayek announced his upcoming resignation as president of the McLean County Unit 5 school board Wednesday and the board approved the hiring of several school staff to new roles.

Hayek, of Normal, said he will leave the board at the end of May or early June to take a new position with State Farm in Phoenix, Ariz.

“I got into this because I have a passion for Unit 5 and I still do. It’s hard leaving," said Hayek. "I wanted to go out to one of our (State Farm) hub locations for several years anyway. It was the right time for me and my family."

Hayek has served on the board since 2015. Once he officially resigns at the end of the school year, the board will appoint a member to fill his seat.

Nathan Fincham was approved as head coach of the Normal Community West High School football team, taking the spot vacated by Darren Hess after his resignation in December.

Before the board approved the staff changes, Unit 5 parent David Cobb asked the district to reconsider its approval of Fincham due to a lack of diversity within district sports leadership.

“By placing the current candidate as your new head coach, whom was part of former varsity staff, we are running the risk of the same nepotism and systemic bias as there was before,” said Cobb.

He went on to claim that Hess was “terminated” but Unit 5 attorney Curt Richardson reiterated that Hess resigned for personal reasons and was not fired by the district.

“I can’t even make an assessment of Fincham. I don’t know him,” said Cobb. “However, he was a part of that former staff. If we’re going to do what’s best for our kids, we want diversity, inclusion, equal treatment and equal opportunity.”

According to district record, Hess submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to review the board’s closed session minutes in November and December. Cobb was in attendance at one of those closed session meetings to discuss personnel matters.

Richardson said the request for minutes was denied due to the Open Meetings Act, which exempts inspection of closed minutes unless the board makes the minutes available to the public.

“Our current policy already prohibits paying coaches from activity funds,” said Richardson. “This addition gives the board another set of eyes to review expenditures to make sure that's not occurring.”

The board also approved the naming of Stacie France as principal at Kingsley Junior High and Darrin Cooper as principal at Parkside Junior High. France is currently principal at Chiddix Junior High and Cooper is principal at Oakdale Elementary.

Tommy Hoerr, district assistant business manager, said Rivian’s abatement to Unit 5 is worth approximately $359,000 for tax year 2017 payable in 2018.

The board also approved measures to borrow up to $13 million in tax anticipation warrants — a short-term loan to help the district get by until it receives property tax payments in late spring.

Follow Julia Evelsizer on Twitter: @pg_evelsizer


Public Safety Reporter

Public safety reporter for The Pantagraph.

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