BELLEVILLE — Longtime Belleville West High School Assistant Principal Rich Mertens has been hired to be the school's leader for the 2012-13 school year.
District 201 Superintendent Jeff Dosier said the board wasn't satisfied with the resumes it got to fill the position permanently following the transfer of principal Bob Dahm to another job with the district. So it decided to hire Mertens -- who Dosier said did not apply for the principal's job -- on an interim basis with plans to re-advertise the opening in a year.
"We went through the process and we didn't feel like we had a good fit," Dosier said. "Rich Mertens has been a teacher and an assistant principal here for a long time and he has agreed to take the job on an interim basis."
Mertens, who began working at Belleville West as a math teacher for the spring semester of the 1989-90 school year and became an assistant principal in 2003 and the top assistant three years ago, did not apply for the permanent principal position when Dahm announced he would transfer.
"It's going to be an exciting new challenge," Mertens said. "I look forward to working with the teachers to do our best to make every kid succeed."
Dosier said he had not discussed with Mertens whether the interim job would serve as an audition to become principal permanently.
"(Mertens) is a quality administrator and I'm sure he's going to do a great job," Dosier said. "But we haven't talked about what may happen beyond this year."
Mertens, a 1979 graduate of Belleville West who received his undergraduate degree in mathematics at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and his masters degree in administration from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, said he's thrilled for the opportunity to lead his former school at least for a year.
"I never imagined that this would happen," Mertens said. "I don't know what's going to happen. We'll wait and see if I am a good fit or not."
Dahm agreed earlier this year to leave his post to take over as principal of District 201's new alternative day school program for the 2012-13 school year. He will also work as a grant writer for the district.
In other business Monday the school board voted to:
* Raise the price of lunch for students and adults by a nickel.
A full price lunch will rise to $2.30 from $2.25 for students and from $2.75-2.80 for adults.
* Raise the price of driver's education fees $50 to $125 per student. Dosier said the increase was needed to offset the price of operating the district's fleet of cars.
Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at email@example.com or call 239-2626.