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Gegenheimer signs four-year contract with District 201

Superintendent receives the 'security' he was seeking

Published: Monday, April 30, 2012 11:40 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 3:20 p.m. CDT

MINOOKA — Al Gegenheimer has agreed to a four-year contract to remain the superintendent at Minooka Grade School District 201.

Gegenheimer was scheduled to sign the contract Monday.

Questions arose about whether Gegenheimer would stay with the district when it was reported that he had been wooed by Union School District 81 in Joliet.

Union 81 is also where Gegenheimer began his career as a superintendent. Prior to that, he had been a teacher, principal, curriculum coordinator, business manager, transportation director and assistant superintendent, all at Channahon District 17.

He came to Minooka 201 in 2007 from Troy School District, where he was assistant superintendent of business.

Gegenheimer had been working without a contract with Minooka 201 for several months, simply because the board hadn’t gotten around to drawing one up, he said. He put his name in the hat for the dual position of superintendent/principal at Union 81 because it would have been an opportunity to return to working with students, he said in a phone interview over the weekend.

“It appealed to me,” he said. “I am not unhappy (at Minooka 201). They are not unhappy with me.”

After working with Minooka’s Board of Education for the past five months, a contract was ratified last Thursday, Gegenheimer said.

The issue was never about money, Gegenheimer said. He was looking for a contract that would carry him until he is eligible for retirement.

“All I really wanted was security,” he said. “I wasn’t asking for money.”

Gegenheimer turned down two salary increases from Minooka 201 over the past several years, he said.

Three years ago, he was offered a 5-percent increase with his contract. At the time, the district was putting together a $1.6 million-deficit reduction plan.

“I told them I didn’t want the increase,” he said. “A lot of people lost their jobs. I couldn’t, in good conscience, have taken a raise even though my raise wouldn’t have saved one job.”

The next year the district cut $800,000 from its budget.

“I said the same thing (about an increase) then,” he said.

This time he was convinced to accept a 6-percent pay increase, which will bump him up to $144,445 next year. He received the same as teachers get for a retirement contract, he said.

Gegenheimer is also the district’s business and finance manager. Most similar size school districts have both a superintendent and a business manager.

He has one of the lowest per-pupil salaries in the area for a superintendent of a 4,000-student district, he said.

“I make a very good living,” he said. “I didn’t go into teaching to get rich. I went into it to help the kids.”

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