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posted: 1/23/2014 5:30 AM

Geneva library director steps down, cites health issue

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  • Matt Teske

      Matt Teske

 
 

A struggle with depression and anxiety prompted Geneva Public Library director Matt Teske to resign Wednesday night at a special library board meeting.

But the board then rehired him as an assistant library director -- a position he held before becoming director in 2008.

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Teske took a seven-week leave during November and December to undergo treatment, then returned to work half-time. He said that while he is in a better emotional state than he was in November, being director is "not a good fit" for him at this time.

Teske was paid an annual salary of $110,233 as director. He will now make $86,284.

The vote to rehire him was 6-1, with Trustee Susan Shivers voting "no."

Shivers also voted against hiring an interim director, which the board approved.

She said she disapproved of the library having two assistant directors and an interim. The current assistant director, Peggy Carlson, is retiring June 27, according to a letter she submitted Wednesday.

"While I understand what everyone said tonight, the need to have two assistant directors and an interim director has not been demonstrated to me," Shivers said.

She said the job description for assistant director calls for that person to serve as interim director, and the board should have held off until Carlson is gone to fill the assistant director position. Shivers said the board "added another layer of bulk in administration that will cost us money we did not budget for." She also cited the cost of hiring a search firm, saying it would be $17,000.

Several other trustees, including Trustee Steven Andersson, disagreed.

"This is not just about dollars and cents. This is about talent. Matt has substantial talent, which he has demonstrated, and I don't want to lose that," Andersson said. He said the library could use its savings for unbudgeted costs.

Trustee Bob Shiffler said it was important to have "continuity in the upper ranks" of the library now that Carlson is retiring.

Trustee Patricia Lord also disagreed with Shivers' figures, saying the library would not be spending more by hiring an interim.

The interim director, Marilyn Boria, will be paid $60 an hour, for 12 to 15 hours of work per week. She will not receive any benefits. If she works through the end of June, that calculates to about $20,700. Boria retired as director of the Elmhurst library in 2011, and she has served as interim director at the Sugar Grove and Carol Stream libraries.

The board will discuss whether to hire a search firm at its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Teske told the library staff about his decision Monday. He said since speaking publicly about his problems, people have approached him to say they, too, have dealt with depression, and that he was helping people by dealing with it publicly.

"Sometimes people have challenges, and I think Matt met his." board President Esther Steel said.

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