Mundelein High School business manager Gary Lonquist will retire in June, officials have confirmed.
Hired in 2006, Lonquist helped guide the school into relatively calm financial waters after years of fiscal mismanagement by previous administrations led to a multimillion-dollar deficit.
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Mundelein High has had a balanced budget every year Lonquist has been in control of the books, and that deficit has turned into a surplus.
"Gary always emphasized to the administrative team and boards of education that he was truly committed to leaving Mundelein High School district in a better state of operations before he retired compared to the state the district was in when he arrived in 2006," Superintendent Jody Ware said in an email. "In my opinion, he achieved his goal."
Lonquist, 61, of Chicago, joined the Mundelein High staff during a transition period that saw Superintendent Stan Fields and other administrators depart the Hawley Street campus. He was hired as interim business manager but later was given the permanent job.
He previously had worked at schools and colleges in Palatine, Oak Park, Morton Grove and Chicago.
To get a handle on the district's debt, Lonquist helped craft budgets that reduced spending by trimming programs and increasing class sizes, among other steps.
The changes haven't only been financial. The business office has been more efficient and the staff has worked well together under Lonquist's leadership, board President Karen Havlik said.
"He really changed the environment of our business office," Havlik said. "He has turned that department around."
In a brief email, Lonquist said he's especially proud to have helped stabilize the district's finances. He also touted as a highlight the passage of a 2011 referendum that will raise $10 million for building and campus improvements without raising taxes.
Until this most recent effort, Mundelein High School District 120 residents hadn't approved a referendum since 1995, rejecting five financial proposals during that time.
"Gary Lonquist came to District 120 during the onset of district reorganization," Ware said. "Six years later, our district's financial state is stable ... (and) our district now has long-range plan for continuous facility improvement."
The school board on Tuesday agreed to hire a company called School Exec Connect to search for Lonquist's replacement. The firm's president, Linda Hanson, is a former Mundelein High superintendent.
The company -- which also brought Superintendent Jody Ware to the school ahead of the 2008-09 term -- will be paid $9,500 for the work.