A Carlinville resident and current administrator in the North Mac school district was hired Tuesday night as a Community Unit School District 7 administrator starting with the 2017-18 school year. With one member absent and one member voting “present” the district school board voted to extend a three-year contract to Shane Owsley during a brief special meeting of the board.
Owsley will step into the position currently held by High School Principal Lori Emmons, whose contract was not renewed. In late January, the board voted to advertise for high school principal candidates and Supt. Joe Tieman confirmed that Emmons will be reassigned to other duties, though she is continuing to serve as principal through the end of the current academic year.
Owsley, 37, is finishing his third year as dean of students at North Mac, a consolidated district that includes Virden and Girard. For the past two years, he also has served as head football coach at North Mac, leading the team to a 10-1 winning season in 2015 and an 11-2 season this past fall. He was an assistant coach in 2014 and previously was a volunteer assistant football coach for the Carlinville High School Cavaliers. He told The BenGil Post that coaching will not be among his duties in the Gillespie School District, allowing him to focus on his administrative duties.
In an interview with the State Journal-Register published on Wednesday, Owsley said he will follow the Gillespie football program closely, along with the school’s other athletic programs and activities, but will take a hands-off approach regarding the football program. The board hired former assistant coach Jake Bilbruck to succeed Don Dobrino as head football coach during the board’s March meeting.
“I hope I can be a resource to him,” Owsley told the SJ-R. “But it’s his program. If he has questions, I’ll be there in his corner. But I’ll have a hands-off approach. It’s his ship, so we want to make sure he’s the one running it.”
Tieman said Owsley was one of 20 applicants for the administrative position.
Tieman said Owsley was one of 20 applicants for the administrative position. He was one of three finalists selected from among six individuals who were interviewed by the board during a series of six special meetings conducted in executive session over the past two months. Tieman said the board leaned toward hiring an administrator from outside the district, but “that was not a prerequisite” for the position.
Owsley was hired for the next three years on a motion by board member Billy Carter, seconded by Dobrino. Board member Dave Griffel, who did not seek re-election in the consolidated election earlier this month, voted “present” because of his objection to multi-year contracts in an uncertain financial environment for the school district.
Noting that Owsley was among the spectators at the meeting, Griffel said, “My vote on this motion is not meant to be a reflection on you. I think you will be an excellent high school administration and we are very fortunate to have you with the district. My plan is to vote present. That doesn’t mean I don’t support you because I whole-heartedly do. I just don’t support the concept of a three-year contract in the current economic climate. I do not want to vote against you because I want you here.”
Earlier in the meeting, Griffel voted against extending the contracts of Elementary Principal Angela Turcol and Middle School Principal Jill Rosentreter by two years, essentially giving them three-year contracts starting with the 2017-18 school year. Both motions were approved 5-1 with Griffel voting “no.”
Explaining his vote, Griffel said he supported retaining both administrators for the coming school year, but objected to them being given multi-year contracts.
“With the present economic uncertainty and uncertainty about state aid, I cannot support a contract that is for more than one year,” he said.
Board member Peyton Bernot was unable to attend Tuesday night’s meeting but asked Supt. Tieman to read a letter from him into the record in support of Owsley, as well as Turcol and Rosentreter.
“In the field of administration, Mr. Owsley is of the highest caliber,” Bernot wrote. “He will bring stability to the staff at GHS, and especially the students. I fully support employing him as a district administrator, as well as the extensions of Miss Turcol’s and Mrs. Rosentreter’s contracts.” Bernot also called Owsley “a true leader with many qualities that will bring progress to GHS and the Gillespie School District.”
“I believe our school district is headed in the right direction, therefore we need to support the building principals and assure them we have confidence in them through these contract extensions so they can adequately focus on test scores and student achievement,” Bernot’s letter concluded.
Owsley earned a bachelor’s degree at Illinois College in Jacksonville, and completed a masters degree in Education Leadership at Concordia University in Chicago.
While he said he was happy with his position with North Mac, the opportunity to become a district administrator at Gillespie represented a “step up on the professional ladder” for him.
Owsley said his was drawn to Gillespie in part because of Supt. Tieman’s reputation with former colleagues in the North Mac school district.
He said his was drawn to Gillespie in part because of Supt. Tieman’s reputation with former colleagues in the North Mac school district.
“He used to teach there and I heard amazing things about him,” Owsley said. “Our guidance counselor spoke very highly of him and said he was the reason she went into education.”
Family considerations also played into the decision to accept the position in Gillespie, Owsley said. He and his wife, Michelle (a physical education teacher at Carlinville Primary and Intermediate schools) have two young children. The 15-minute commute time between Gillespie and Carlinville will provide more time for him to spend with his family, he said.
Tuesday night’s board action took only about 10 minutes. Newly elected board member Dennis Tiburzi attended the meeting as a spectator. The board will reorganize at its regular April meeting on Monday, April 24, at which time Tiburzi will be sworn-in along with current board members who were re-elected earlier this month.