Choosing a candidate from its own pool of administrators, the Lake Park High School District 108 board of education Monday appointed Lynne Panega as superintendent.
Panega has served as interim superintendent since the April departure of former Superintendent John Butts, who resigned more than two years before his contract was scheduled to expire.
Butts and board members would not comment on his resignation. In a prepared statement they said they agreed he made positive contributions but the Roselle-based district needs new leadership.
Panega has been employed with Lake Park since 2004, when she became assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. In 2008, she was promoted to associate superintendent for curriculum.
She will step into her new role Friday with a two-year contract that runs through June 30, 2012. She will be paid $190,000 during the first year of the pact.
Her benefits package includes an automobile travel allowance not to exceed $400 a month for use of her own vehicle.
The district is not filling her previous position so she will retain the bulk of her curriculum duties.
"It's a financially sound decision," she said Tuesday. "I'm up for the challenge."
Panega said the district has spent the past four years developing a school improvement program and many of those initiatives - including curriculum reform aligned to college readiness standards, a new department leadership structure and a restructured school day that provides more time for students to receive academic support and interventions - are now ready to be implemented.
School board President Barb Layer said Panega is the perfect candidate to replace Butts because she already has a wealth of knowledge about Lake Park's programs.
"Lynne has been involved in all the initiatives that Lake Park has begun because of No Child Left Behind and all of our committees," Layer said. "She's innovative and a go-getter."
In her former duties as associate superintendent, Panega was responsible for overseeing curriculum and instruction design, teacher evaluations, securing grants and working for school improvement under the No Child Left Behind Act, among other duties.
She played a role in implementing Lake Park's Lancer Design for Excellence, a curriculum overhaul that emphasizes college readiness.
Panega said in April the plan will remain "a critical priority for the district" under her leadership.
Layer added that she expects Lake Park to make gains with Panega at the helm.
"I expect continued improvement in curriculum and especially student achievement," she said. "With the restructured day that's coming, there will be a lot more hands-on time with students, more mentoring and tutoring that will hopefully keep us above state standards that are increasing. We expect Lynne to keep up with all of that."
Panega said it's been a smooth transition since she was named acting superintendent in April and she's eager to move forward.
"It's truly a privilege to serve the Lake Park community," she said.