Champaign Unit 4 Officials Back Lockman Hiring

By Jeff Bossert

Champaign School Superintendent Judy Wiegand says the hiring of former board member Tom Lockman as Unit 4's attorney combines two essential services in a new position.

The school board approved his appointment this week.  Wiegand said the position was created in an effort to cut down on the $300-thousand Unit 4 spends annually on legal fees, and provide a human resources background.

She said other school districts, including Normal and Peoria, have similar positions, and used both for Unit 4’s job description.  

As the district researched the job, Wiegand said the district’s now-former finance director, Barbara Ramsay, was looking to leave Unit 4.

“A lot of her work was dealing with workman’s compensation, insurance claims, as well as trying to develop a return to work policy," she said.  "And so as we took a look at the job description, it’s not only the legal piece, stuff like property acquisition and contract negotiations, but then also throwing in a business piece from Barbara’s responsibilities.  So we added those in the job description, posted and then interviewed."

Lockman will paid $100,000 annually, the same amount Ramsay earned.  Wiegand says Lockman wasn’t involved in the job description, and he resigned his board seat before applying for the position.

Unit 4 Board President Stig Lanesskog said Champaign schools will still have outside counsel, but need legal expertise on the core team, and Lockman fits those needs.

“Whether it be personnel issues, whether it be purchase of land, whether it be workman’s comp, a whole host of issues the administration deals with day to day," she said. "So we thought having an expertise in house as opposed to only relying on outside counsel would actually allow the district to make better decisions and work more efficiently.”

Wiegand said she isn’t concerned that Lockman is not currently licensed to practice law in Illinois, saying that simply needs to be re-activated with regulators. 

A former attorney with the Meyer Capel law firm, Lockman is expected to resign his job as an Award Coordinator for the University of Illinois Office of Sponsored programs and Research Administration.

Wiegand expects him to start his new job January 28th.

Story source: WILL