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GARY — Veteran Region educator Peggy Hinckley, who has led the emergency management team at the Gary Community School Corp. for its first 16 months under state control, revealed Thursday that she is retiring next month.

Former Griffith Public Schools Superintendent Peter Morikis was introduced as Hinckley's successor Thursday as leader of the Gary school district. 

"It's been a great honor for me to serve in this role, as you know this is my hometown and I've appreciated it, but now the time has come for me to retire again," Hinckley said. 

Hinckley, of Schererville, has worked to shore up the district's shaky finances, improve its academic offerings and address long-ignored operational needs following an unprecedented state takeover, ordered by the 2017 General Assembly, after the Gary school trustees repeatedly failed to match spending to revenue and racked up more than $100 million in debt.

Hinckley said she will be spending quality time with her husband and escaping the Northwest Indiana cold by traveling to Florida. 

"Thank you to Dr. Peggy Hinckley for her leadership of the Gary Community School Corporation over the last 16 months," MGT Consulting Executive Vice President Eric Parish said. "The progress that has been made in benefiting the Gary School Corporation in general, and the Gary Community School students specifically, is a direct result of Dr. Hinckley's experience and resolve."

Gary Schools Recovery LLC, a subsidiary of MGT Consulting Group, will remain the emergency management firm in charge of running the district, overseen by the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board in lieu of the locally elected School Board.

"We've been having this discussion over a few months, so when I thought about retiring then of course we tried to think about who would have similar experience, having had superintendent experience running school districts in the area, as all of those things are important," Hinckley said. "And of course the person who came to mind is Dr. Peter Morikis."

Morikis retired from Griffith schools in February following a 27-year career in public education as a teacher, principal and superintendent, including 14 years as schools chief in Griffith.

In the weeks ahead, Morikis plans to meet with Gary principals, teachers, staff members, community members, parents and students to outline his vision for the district. He said Gary is a place near to his heart.

"I grew up in east Gary, I spent a lot of time here in my youth," Morikis said. "My grandfather had a butcher shop at 1213 Broadway. This is an opportunity of a lifetime and for my career. There's a lot of smart kids out here."

Morikis said some of the goals set on his agenda are improving students' academic performance and strengthening community outreach. 

The public is invited to speak with Morikis and the Gary schools emergency management team during community dialogues set for 8 a.m., Nov. 26, at West Side Leadership Academy; 5 p.m., Nov. 26, Gary Middle School; and 8 a.m. Nov. 27, Williams Elementary.

“I wish Dr. Hinckley the best in the next stage of her life,” State Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, said. “It is my hope that MGT Consulting and DUAB work to make this a smooth transition and keep the community informed every step of the way. It is imperative that both organizations and the community as a collective group gain a sharp focus on improving the school district for our children.”

Check back at nwi.com for updates to this story.

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Statehouse Bureau Chief

Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.