NORMAL — A year after retiring from Normal-based McLean County Unit 5, Gary Niehaus is back in the education business.
Niehaus, who served as Unit 5's superintendent from 2007 to 2014, will take the same job this fall at Grosse Pointe Public School System near Detroit, according to the district's website.
Niehaus has yet to negotiate a contract with Grosse Pointe, said Community Relations employee Rebecca Fannon.
Niehaus retired from Unit 5, earning $210,000 per year, at age 62 and will still be eligible to draw on his Illinois pension, which he estimated at $168,000 gross annually.
Niehaus told the Pantagraph in 2014 he retired in part due to possible changes in the state's pension system. He said he had no immediate plans for his retirement.
“I don't know if I'm moving. I don't know if I am staying," he said then. "I don't know if I am working or if I am traveling or relaxing, but sooner or later I will settle into something I really want to do."
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Niehaus said Friday the timing and location felt right to jump back into K-12 education at Grosse Pointe, which has 8,300 students, two high schools and 16 total buildings. Unit 5 has two high schools and 24 buildings.
“It’s something I enjoyed doing and wanted to get back in,” he said of education. “I’m going from what I consider one of the best school districts in Illinois to one of the best school districts in Michigan."
Niehaus, who has lived in Normal since starting at Unit 5 eight years ago, said he'll miss “the people, the neighbors and the golf courses.”
Grosse Pointe's board voted to hire Niehaus on Monday, according to the website. He said he expects to sign a three-year contract.
Niehaus' new district is three hours away from Dowagiac Union Schools, where current Unit 5 Superintendent Mark Daniel worked prior to coming to McLean County.