Mayor tapped to lead one-school district
By Susan DeMar Laferty firstname.lastname@example.org June 2, 2012 4:30PM
Updated: July 7, 2012 8:11AM
New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann was hired as the new superintendent in Union School District 81 following a brief special board meeting Saturday morning.
After two other candidates turned the job down, Baldermann — who holds a superintendent’s certificate but has never served in that capacity — was approved on 4-to-2 vote, with one board member abstaining.
Baldermann, who retired as Chicago Ridge police chief in April 2010, served two years as president of the board of education in New Lenox School District 122, worked occasionally as a substitute teacher, and became mayor in 2007. He replaces Barb Littlejohn, who is retiring at the end of June after serving the district for over 30 years.
He said he will be given a three-year contract at an annual salary of $127,000. The one-school district serves 110 students from Joliet and New Lenox.
Union school board president John LaRocca is not concerned about Baldermann’s experience level.
“He’s a good man. He will do just as good for the school as he has for the village of New Lenox,” he said.
He wants the new superintendent to start “right away.
LaRocca said he chose Baldermann because he thought he would move the school forward and get the students grades up.
Baldermann said he intends to do just that.
District 81 takes in a small portion of New Lenox and most students in that area do not attend Union School — a fact that has always bothered Baldermann, and one he said he plans to change.
“I want people to say with pride that they go to Union School. I don’t want my name attached to something I am not proud of,” he said. “I know it will be a challenge and I love a challenge. Every kid deserves a great education.”
The board interviewed five candidates for the job, and Baldermann was the fifth choice, board members said.
“I want a candidate who can move the district forward,” board member Pat Sweeney said. He expressed concern about the selection process and felt that Baldermann — who was fifth on the board’s list of five final candidates — was being “rammed” down their throats.
Board member Linda Brunner abstained in the vote.
“I have confidence in Baldermann and I like him, but I didn’t like the process,” she said.
he board was not aware that Mr. LaRocca was negotiating with Baldermann.
At a previous board meeting, the board authorized LaRocca to negotiate with the top two candidates, both of whom turned it down for other jobs. LaRocca said he had “conversations” with Baldermann and discussed his appointment with some board members verbally or by email.
“I can’t say how I did it or why,” LaRocca said. “We had no board meetings about it. I just asked Baldermann if he was interested. We were definitely pressed for time.”