SYCAMORE — After a months-long process, Sycamore School District 427 Board of Education chose the district’s next superintendent Thursday.
Stephen Wilder signed a three-year contract with the district during a quick 7 a.m. Sycamore School District Board of Education meeting Tuesday at the district’s administration building. He will be taking over for Superintendent Kathy Countryman, who will retire at the end of the school year after 20 years in Sycamore schools administration, the final eight as superintendent.
Wilder, who’s spent the last 10 years as superintendent for Knoxville Community Unit School District 202 near Galesburg, will take over as superintendent July 1, 2020. He said Sycamore is a little bit larger than his last district.
“It’s a natural progression for me professionally in moving from a smaller district to Sycamore,” Wilder said.
Before the 7-0 vote, Sycamore School District Board of Education president Jim Dombek thanked those who helped during the search process, including his board members, whom Dombek said spent a lot of time, effort and “blood, sweat and tears” during the search process, which began July 15.
He also thanked Bob Hammon, the district’s consultant, for guiding the district through the process that saw them go through 23 candidates. Hammon and his team narrowed down the number of candidates to eight, then the board narrowed it down to the final four.
Hammon, citing confidentiality, would not say the names of the other finalists.
Wilder said a few words after the vote came through and started off thanking the district for going through the process.
“I know how intense it is and the burden the school board had in making the decision,” Wilder said. “In my contact with the entire board, you’ve been absolutely diligent and very responsible about the decision and the whole process.”
Wilder said the process was up and down for him and his family. He has two sons — Sam, 18, and Sean, 9 — and two daughters, Maren, 16, and Maggie, 14.
“You get an interview and you wait, you get an interview and you wait, and I’m just very excited,” he said. “Sycamore, we can tell it’s a great community. It’s a phenomenal school district and I’m very excited to be a part of it in a leadership role. I know my family is as excited to be here too.”
Countryman said she and the rest of the district are very excited to have Wilder start in July. Although she was not part of the search or decision process, she likes what she’s been told.
“From what I understand I think his experience and his vision match up well with what we’re trying to do here,” she said.
Wilder spoke about how he and his family feel about being in Sycamore.
“My family and I are very excited to be here,” he said. “My wife Michelle and I have had a couple visits, gotten to drive around the community, get into the schools a little bit and meet the staff … this feels like home.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle