SYCAMORE – After a monthslong process, Sycamore District 427 School Board chose its next superintendent Thursday.
Stephen Wilder signed a three-year contract with the district during a
7 a.m. School Board 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.
Wilder spent the past 10 years as superintendent for Knoxville Community Unit School District 202 near Galesburg, and he will take over as superintendent for District 428 on July 1. 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, School Board president Jim Dombek thanked those who helped during the search process, including fellow members who said Dombek spent a lot of time, effort and “blood, sweat and tears” during the search 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 initial number of candidates to eight, which the board then narrowed to the final four.
Hammon said he could not reveal the names of the other finalists because of confidentiality concerns.
After the vote, Wilder thanked 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 said she likes what she was 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.
“My wife Michelle and I have had a couple visits,” Wilder said. “Got to drive around the community, get into the schools a little bit and meet the staff. ... This feels like home.”