Former superintendent lands new job
KIRKLAND – Sarah Willey, former superintendent of the soon-to-be-dissolved Riverdale School District in Rock Falls, was chosen Monday to lead the Hiawatha School District.
Willey, of Harmon, replaces Christine Demory, effective July 1. The Kirkland K-12 district has about 700 students; Riverdale had about 65 K-8 students.
The board started its superintendent search in early May and hired a consultant from the Illinois Association of School Boards to vet candidates.
Dawn Miller, a search consultant with the IASB, said about 30 candidates applied for the position. She helped narrow the pool to four people, and finally to two.
“I liked them both,” board President Jack Novelli said. “[Willey] has a ton of experience and is very prepared and meticulous. That’s what you need when you have a big budget. We’re in good shape financially, and we want to keep it that way.”
Her salary likely will be between $115,000 and $120,000, Novelli said. She was paid $84,500 in Rock Falls.
For the last 5 years, Willey was superintendent for Riverdale, which had about 65 students and was in dire financial straits before agreeing to be absorbed by Rock Falls Elementary School District 13, an idea she took to her school board 2 years earlier. The dissolution becomes official next month.
Willey, a 1973 Newman Central Catholic High School grad, also taught in Sterling and Dixon, was the director of the Lee County Special Education Association and was also the director of instruction in Rochelle schools.
Demory is the new superintendent of Big Hollow School District in Ingleside.