By Bob Uphues
LaGrange-Brookfield Elementary School District 102's board of education in April voted unanimously to appoint Diana McCluskey as its new assistant superintendent for business operations.
McCluskey, who is a certified public accountant for the Northern Suburban Special Education District in Highland Park, will take the reins on July 1. She'll replace Lauri Kearney, who is retiring as chief financial officer after six years in District 102.
"Mrs. McCluskey stood out during the interviews due to her attention to detail, her demonstrated abilities to strategically plan and problem solve," said District 102 Superintendent Kyle Schumacher in a press release. "She exhibited a wide range of abilities that will serve District 102 as we rebuild fund balances, plan for the future and ensure that District 102 continues to focus on student learning and growth with a strong financial foundation."
McCluskey's salary during the one-year contract approved by school board members is $120,000. Kearney's pay for the 2016-17 school year, according to the salary schedule posted on the District 102 website, is $160,000 along with another $32,000 in "other benefits" which appear to be a combination of health insurance premiums and pension contributions.
"I am looking forward to helping District 102 manage their financial resources as effectively and efficiently as possible," McCluskey said in a press release.
The new top finance staffer comes in on the heels of a successful property tax referendum that will help the school district avoid program cuts, teacher layoffs and increased class sizes.
The school district predicts that as a result of the referendum, District 102 will receive an additional $3 million annually in property tax revenue.
That will allow the district to end years of deficit spending that had eroded its cash reserves. In 2016-17, the school board budgeted an operating deficit of a little more than $2 million.
According to a press release issued by District 102, McCluskey's experience comes from both the private and public sectors. She earned bachelor's degree in accounting from Bradley University before obtaining a master's degree in special education from National Louis University. She also earned her chief school business official endorsement from Northern Illinois University.
She began her career as a CPA in the private sector before shifting gears and becoming a special education teacher at Gavin South Middle School in Ingleside in unincorporated Lake County.
Before landing her job with the Northern Suburban Special Education District, McCluskey served as business manager at Ashland School District in Ashland, Oregon, and held business management positions at the Leyden Area Special Education Cooperative, Proviso Township High School District 209 and Lake Zurich Community Unit School District 95.
When she's not crunching numbers, McCluskey is director and co-founder of McCluskey Photography Inc. in Northbrook.