By Bob Skolnik
On Nov. 13, the Lyons-Brookfield School District 103 Board of Education voted 5 to 0 to hire Mark Galba as the district's new maintenance director, replacing Ryan Grace, who was fired by the board in a 4 to 3 vote in October.
Galba, 51, is a union electrician who has extensive experience in automation, lighting controls and systems integration. He will be paid an annual salary of $83,000 a year, which will be prorated for this year.
"He has electrical expertise and that will be great for the school district," said District 103 Superintendent Carol Baker. "When things come up in that area, we won't have go outside for all of that, and that will be a good cost savings for the school district."
Baker said eight candidates submitted applications for the job. One applicant was a current District 103 employee, whom Baker declined to name. Four candidates were interviewed, and Baker recommended hiring Galba.
Galba is a product of District 103. He grew up in Stickney, attended Home School and three of his four children attended District 103 schools.
He lives in Forest View, the same tiny town where school board President Marge Hubacek lives. Growing up, Galba's brother was friends with Hubacek's son. But both Galba and Hubacek say that they hardly know each other.
"She actually knows me more than I know her, because Marge is a bit older than I am," Galba said. "She knows my sister. I really don't talk to Marge."
Hubacek said that she knows the family through her son, and uncles of Galba have been her neighbors.
"I've known the family," Hubacek said.
Hubacek said that she played no role in Galba's hiring until accepting the recommendation of Baker and voting with other board members. School board members talked to Galba in closed session on Nov. 13 before voting to hire him.
"They didn't give us anything on the other people," Hubacek said. "He didn't call and ask to use me as a reference."
Galba has worked on some large and complicated projects. He has been working as a lead electrician for the new Northwestern University football complex, which is being built in Evanston.
He has also worked on a project at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Business and has done some work for Chicago Public Schools. He was the general foreman for an automation project for a plant jointly owned by Iowa Beef Processors and Tyson Foods.
Galba, a graduate of Morton West High School, earned an associate's degree in engineering from Triton College in 2011.
Although he is an electrician, Galba said he has contacts in every trade and believes he can quickly get up to speed on the issues that a school maintenance director faces.
"I have a great network of people that I have been with," Galba said. "I've worked with so many different trades. It's going to be a little bit of an adjustment learning … [but] I don't see it as really a problem at all. I don't think there's anything there that I can't handle."
Galba said he believes he can help the district upgrade some of its infrastructure in ways that can ultimately save the district money.
"There is a lot to be done that hasn't been done in terms of especially their mechanical systems, Galba said. "My goal is to basically give all the knowledge that I've gotten to these schools.
Hubacek said that she thinks it will be helpful that Galba is familiar with the district.