By EDWARD HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Patricia Sullivan-Viniard, assistant superintendent of the Quincy School District for the past eight years, is leaving Quincy to take a superintendent's job in the Chicago area.
Sullivan-Viniard confirmed Wednesday she has accepted a job as superintendent of LaGrange Highlands School District 106 in LaGrange. She will start work July 1.
Sullivan-Viniard has been an educator for 30 years and worked in the Quincy School District for 15 years. She formerly was a teacher at Baldwin Intermediate School and later became principal at Washington Elementary School before she was named assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in 2005. She replaced Carol Mickle, who retired.
Last September, Sullivan-Viniard signed a three-year retirement contract with the Quincy School District that spelled out plans for her to retire at the end of the 2014-15 school year.
The retirement contract included 6 percent raises each year of the contract. Under this arrangement, she is being paid $128,243 this year. She was scheduled to earn $135,937 in 2013-14 and $144,093 in 2014-15.
LaGrange Highlands is an elementary school district serving about 900 students in grades K-8. Sullivan-Viniard will be paid $168,000 in her new position. These salary figures do not include Teacher Retirement System payments made by the districts on her behalf or any other benefits.
Sullivan-Viniard said she has mixed feelings about leaving Quincy.
"I've had 15 really amazing years here in Quincy, and it's going to be really hard to leave all the friends and colleagues and families that I've been blessed to work with," she said. "It's going to be very difficult to say goodbye."
However, Sullivan-Viniard said she couldn't pass up the opportunity to lead a K-8 elementary district because of her career-long affection for working with elementary-age children.
"The fact that it's an elementary district is one of the things that drew me to it," she said.
"I have a particular passion and love for the elementary level and elementary-level students. Those first years of a student's education are the foundational years and are so important. I just really love the elementary level."
Sullivan-Viniard is a native of Macomb. She later moved with her family to the Nauvoo-Hamilton area. Her first teaching job out of college was in the Hamilton School District. She later became a high school English teacher at the East Alton/Wood River School District in the St. Louis area and went on to become an assistant superintendent in that district before she moved to Quincy 15 years ago.
"I've really grown not just professionally but personally through the opportunities I've had in Quincy," she said. "I'm extremely grateful to the Quincy community for all of those opportunities that I've had."
In LaGrange, Sullivan-Viniard will replace Robert Dyer, a former 32-year employee of the Moline School District who became LaGrange Highlands superintendent in July 2010. Dyer is retiring.
Sullivan-Viniard said she is eager to begin working as a superintendent, even though it means she will be far from many of her friends and relatives.
"I'm just really very excited about this new phase in my career, and I'm really looking forward to it," she said.
"But it's bittersweet. I've had nothing but wonderful opportunities in Quincy. The community has been so good to me and my husband. It will be sad for us to leave, but we certainly have a lot of family in this area, so I am quite sure that we will be back regularly and will certainly be staying in touch with friends here. I will always love Quincy Public Schools and will always do anything I can to help the district and the students and the families in it."
Sullivan-Viniard is the latest high-level Quincy School District administrator to leave the district in recent months.
Lonny Lemon resigned as superintendent last June to take a job at the Oak Grove 68 School District near Libertyville. Since his departure, the district has been served by two different interim superintendents — Bud Martin, who retired as business manager last year but agreed to come back as interim superintendent under a 60-day contract, and Cal Lee, who started work in September under a 100-day contract that expires later this month. Lee had retired in June after working 11 years as superintendent of the Moline School District.
The board is expected soon to name a new interim soon to work the remainder of the school district under a 100-day schedule.
The School Board announced Wednesday it will hold a special meeting at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Board of Education office, 1416 Maine. The agenda calls for going into closed session for the possible appointment or employment of personnel.
The board has been using a search firm to help find a new full-time superintendent and a new interim superintendent.
Last Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, the board interviewed five prospective candidates from a pool of 33 individuals for the full-time superintendent's position. The board then invited two of the candidates to come back for a second round of interviews. However, one of the finalists subsequently withdrew from consideration, so the board proceeded with holding a second interview Dec. 15 with just the one unidentified finalist.
Then on Dec. 31 the board announced it couldn't reach an agreement "on the structure of an employment arrangement" with a finalist for the superintendent's position.
As a result, "the district will continue the search process with the help of our consultant, School Exec Connect, who is committed to bring us qualified candidates until we select a new superintendent," School Board President Bill Daniels said in a statement released that morning.
Sullivan-Viniard told The Herald-Whig she did not apply for the Quincy superintendent's position.