This story has been changed to include corrected information.
MATTOON — It was an internal search that ultimately led to the school board's decision to have Tim Condron assume the role as Mattoon superintendent following Larry Lilly's retirement next year.
Conversations about who might replace Lilly were ongoing since he announced his intent to retire a couple of years ago. But those conversations became more serious during the past year.
The board took formal action to hire Condron as the next superintendent on June 11.
Mattoon school board President Michelle Skinlo said the group initially decided to do an internal search. A month went by and Condron expressed interest in the position.
Condron said it has been a personal and professional goal to become a superintendent. Condron comes to the position having served as assistant superintendent for business for the past year and after an almost decade-long stint as the district's curriculum director.
"We started talking about Tim on the board," Skinlo explained. "Did we still want to go further and look, or were we going to look at Tim a little more closely?"
After further discussions with Condron, the board was firm in its interest to offer the lead role to him, Skinlo said.
"The board members felt very strongly that we wanted to stick with Tim," she said. "He knew the district. He knew all of the departments. He knew all of the staff."
It was decided then that it would not move forward with an external search. The costs associated with an external search played only a part in that decision, Skinlo said.
Max Weiss, of external communications at Illinois State Board of Education, said there are no requirements that a school board include external candidates as part of its superintendent search. School boards may select a superintendent as they see fit, he said.
"It was a unanimous decision with all of the board members that we were very happy with Tim and not waste anybody else's time," Skinlo said. "We were very satisfied that he would lead us in the direction that we needed to go."
The district is in the process of implementing overhauls to its curriculum and equipment through competency-based learning, one-to-one technology and "Leader in Me" initiatives. Condron has been involved with each of these and plans to further them as superintendent.
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Skinlo said Condron's career path and his progress toward superintendent, in many ways, reassembled Lilly's. Lilly said his involvement in the search was limited to organizing members to discuss the issue and offering a recommendation for Condron for the position.
"At one point, the board asked me my thoughts," he said. "I have seen Tim grow from a student teacher to an assistant superintendent for business, so I was happy to give my recommendation."
"He sees the district, I think, from a lot of lenses," Lilly said. "Probably the most important lens that he sees that through, and probably the lens that will serve him the best, is that of parent."
Condron has two children, Bennett, 7, and Brielle, 6, who attend Riddle Elementary School.
Lilly stressed it was a board decision.
The transition will be a year-long process, with Condron slowly assuming responsibilities as the school year progresses.
"Tim will continue to learn the role of a superintendent," Lilly said. "We will continue to look for opportunities for him to work more with the board of education. He will continue to connect with the community. I would anticipate him getting out there and connecting more with those folks."
But Condron said the full extent of responsibilities will come July, 1, 2020, when he officially assumes the position. According to his 3-year contract, Condron will receive a salary of $150,000 the first year, $154,425 the second year and $158,981 the third year. His current salary is $117,000. Lilly currently has a salary of $164,572.
As for the assistant superintendent for business position, Lilly said the next year will be spent reviewing that post and determining if its focus should be changed to that of a business manager role, attracting a person with an accounting background.
The coming school year will be Lilly's 16th with the school district. Lilly is the longest serving superintendent in the district, surpassing Virgil H. Judge who served as superintendent for 14 years before becoming the first president of Lake Land College.
Lilly said he will likely do some traveling upon retirement.