Caposey, OCUSD Board ink five-year superintendent contract

PJ Caposey

OREGON — Less than two weeks after PJ Caposey was named Illinois’ 2023 Superintendent of the Year for his work at Meridian School District, he signed a contract to join the Oregon School District in 2024.

Caposey, a former Oregon High School principal and current Meridian School District superintendent, was hired as OCUSD superintendent effective July 1, 2024, according to the contract. Oregon School Board members unanimously approved the five-year contract during a Dec. 1 special meeting.

“First and foremost, it’s home. Being able to come home is really important to me,” Caposey said when asked what he’s looking forward to. “Second, obviously I’m very close with Dr. [Tom] Mahoney, so following what he’s started to build and continuing to move forward is really important to me.”

On Nov. 28, current OCUSD Superintendent Tom Mahoney announced he plans to retire effective June 30, 2024. He has held the position for 13 years.

“In terms of actual work, there’s a lot of things I think that can be done,” Caposey said. “But most importantly, I think there’s an image that it’s just Oregon in almost a self-deprecating way. One of my first orders of business is to change that mindset.”

He hears the self-deprecation from his children as students, in bleachers and other places, Caposey said.

“I just want us to have a sense of community pride — both Chana, Oregon, Mt. Morris — all to have the community pride that I think the district is much better than most people realize,” he said. “I want them to know that, but I also want to continue to improve on that.”

Oregon School Board President Bryan Wills said Mahoney and Caposey will work together during the next 18 months to ensure a smooth transition.

Caposey earned a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University, a master’s degree from National Louis University, and a doctorate from Western Illinois University, according to a press release from OCUSD. He led Stillman Valley High School to earn the designation of “Top Achieving High School” from U.S. News & World Report the past six years.

“From my perspective, he [Caposey] is a really dynamic superintendent who’s done lots of really positive things over at Meridian,” Mahoney said. “While the challenges here won’t be the same as the challenges there, his work here as a principal was outstanding, and I would expect that he would continue to look for ways to find areas that can be improved and enhance the experience for students and stuff.”

For the five years of the contract, Caposey’s salary will be:

  • 2024-25: $180,000;
  • 2025-26: $185,500;
  • 2026-27: $191,000;
  • 2027-28: $196,500;
  • 2028-29: $202,500.

Caposey will receive full benefits and, if at the end of each contract year, Caposey receives a “proficient” or higher rating on his performance evaluation, he will get an $8,500 performance bonus, according to the contract. If board members fail to complete the evaluation during a contract year, Caposey automatically will get the bonus.

Mahoney’s salary for the 2022-23 school year is $194,000.

Caposey has authored eight books, published numerous blogs and articles and is a sought-after keynote speaker, according to his personal website, PJCaposey.com. His work and commentary have appeared in The Washington Post, National Public Radio, CBS and other places.

“We’re just really excited to have PJ, No. 1,” Wills said. “Tom’s done a great job of getting us a kind of the foundation built and I think PJ is going to just explode off of that and really take Oregon to new heights.”

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner covers Ogle County for the Oregon Republican Reporter, Forreston Journal, Mt. Morris Times and Polo Tri-County Press. She has seven-plus years of experience in journalism and has won numerous awards, including a first place award for investigative reporting from the WNA.