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Article updated: 6/26/2012 10:29 PM

Dist. 121 chooses interim superintendent

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By Jennifer Earl

Phil Sobocinski, retiring superintendent at Warren Township High School District 121 in Gurnee, will leave his position in very capable hands.

School board members have named Assistant Superintendent Mary Perry-Bates to act as interim superintendent while they search for someone permanent.

Sobocinski said Perry-Bates, who has served alongside him for the nine years he has been superintendent, will be a great fill-in because of her strong work ethic.

"She's been here and has had the opportunity to participate in all phases of the operation," he said. "She has all the attributes every lead administrator has to have."

Perry-Bates was chosen as a replacement for Jeff Brierton, principal of the O'Plaine Road campus for freshman and sophomores, who was expected to fill the spot on July 1.

Brierton was given the superintendent's job after a 7-0 school board vote in December 2010, but officially withdrew from replacing Sobocinski about two weeks ago.

John Anderson, District 121 board president, said Brierton resigned as future superintendent based on philosophical disagreements on operating procedures with the school board. Anderson declined to go into further detail on Brierton's reason for withdrawal.

"This decision hasn't been made lightly," he said. "Although no one is happy with the outcome, we feel this is in the best interest for students, the board, and the district."

Sobocinski, who has been working toward his retirement under a three-year deal approved in 2009, agreed to stay at Warren until June 30. His annual base salary rose to $228,290 for the 2011-12 academic year, and he will receive a $10,000 bonus for staying.

Since the district was required by law to fill his position by July 1, Anderson said he is thankful Perry-Bates agreed to fill the void.

Perry-Bates said she'll continue to work on the initiatives and activities within the district's five-year strategic plan.

"It's big shoes to fill," she said. "We'll just continue to do what we've done, which is to improve our academics and all aspects of the organization."

Perry-Bates said the school board will begin the process of searching for a new superintendent during the 2012-2013 school year. Once the board finds someone to fill the position, she will return to her previous position as an assistant to the superintendent.

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