Former Superintendent of Schools, Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, talks with the man who will be replacing her as superintendent, Shawn Walsh, prior to his appointment ceremony at the Will County Board monthly meeting at the Will County Office Building in Joliet, Illinois, Thursday, February 21, 2013. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Shawn Walsh is the new Will County regional superintendent of schools.
His appointment was confirmed Thursday by the Will County Board after he was nominated by his dad, County Executive Larry Walsh.
Shawn Walsh, 35, of Elwood, worked as assistant regional superintendent of schools for five years. The vacancy for the top spot was created in January when former regional Supt. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) began her term as a state senator.
By law, a replacement must come from the same political party and the nomination must be made by the county executive.
Shawn Walsh, the only applicant, previously worked as a teacher at St. Mary Magdalene School and Hufford Junior High School and as a teacher and dean at Washington Junior High School.
He has a master’s degree in educational leadership from Governors State University and a bachelor’s in history and secondary education from the University of St. Francis.
Shawn Walsh said he is looking forward to fulfilling the duties of the office, which oversees many regional school programs involving truancy, alternative learning, building inspections, bus driver training and criminal background checks. The office also administers GED tests and processes teacher certifications and registrations.
In 2011, the state did not fund salaries for regional superintendents and their assistants for five months. The state is consolidating the offices to further reduce costs, Shawn Walsh said. The number will shrink from 44 to 35 after the next election cycle.
“So consolidation is already happening, but Will County has a large enough population we’re not going to be affected by that,” he said.
He said he plans to run for the post in the November 2014 election. If successful, he would begin a full term on July 1, 2015.
“In this position, if done right, you can help a lot of people,” he said.
Only one board member, Margo McDermed (R-Mokena), voted against the appointment. She said she was opposed because Shawn Walsh is Larry Walsh’s son.
“Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something,” she said.
No other board members voiced opposition, although Chuck Maher (R-Naperville) abstained.