The Lyons-Brookfield School District 103 board acted quickly on Thursday to replace the district’s longtime maintenance director, Thomas Sheehy, by hiring a man who is employed by the Lyons Department of Public Works.

Selected in a 4 to 2 vote, with board members Joanne Schaffer and Sharon Anderson voting against, was Ryan Grace, who is deputy director of public works for the village of Lyons. He will serve as interim maintenance director for District 103.

Grace replaces Sheehy, whose contact the school board chose not to renew at their March 24 meeting. 

Grace said he didn’t believe his connection to the village of Lyons and its president, Christopher Getty, had anything to do with his hire.

“I applied just like several other candidates and the board chose,” Grace said.

According to the Illinois Board of Elections website, Grace has contributed a combined $1,700 since 2012 to Citizens for Christopher Getty and Getty’s United Citizens Party. 

Grace also is listed on the Illinois Board of Elections website as a prior chairman of the United Citizens Party political committee. He was elected as a Lyons village trustee in 2011 as part of a UCP slate but resigned in June 2013.

District 103 Interim Superintendent Kyle Hastings said that two candidates filed applications for the interim maintenance position, but that the second candidate did not show up for an interview. 

Anderson was critical of the hiring process and said a notice of the open position could not have been posted long. 

“We were literally handed his resume and told to vote for him,” Anderson said of Grace. “I walk into a board meeting and everything has already been pre-decided. It’s sad.”

Interim interim superintendent picked

The school board also selected Kevin McCaffrey for the role of interim superintendent for the next two months at a rate of $900 a day. He’ll work in place of Hastings, who has reached the 100-day limit imposed by the Teachers Retirement System for retirees who are collecting state pensions.

Hastings said he expected McCaffrey to work two to three days a week until a new superintendent for the district debuts in June. 

McCaffrey is a retired assistant superintendent who spent 10 years working for Community High School District 218 in the south suburbs. The school district is directly adjacent to the village of Orland Hills, where Hastings is mayor.

Since retiring, McCaffrey was worked as an adjunct professor at Concordia University and as a consultant for his former school districts. 

Anderson said that when she served as board president previously, standard procedure would have been to collect several names of people who could fill the position and then have the board discuss their merits. Anderson said the board was given only McCaffrey’s name and that no other candidates were considered by the board as a whole.

Hastings said the school board will likely announce its decision to hire a new superintendent on April 28. That person, he said, likely will start in June, at which point Hastings will become the district’s assistant superintendent. 

Hastings said he is switching to assistant superintendent to provide continuity in the district during the transition. Hastings will be paid $1,000 per day in his new role and will continue to work one to three days a week, or as needed, he said. 

When asked if he expected to have to hire and interim assistant superintendent toward the end of the next school year if he approached 100 days of work again, he said that he will likely spread out his days better so that doesn’t happen.