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story.lead_photo.caption Janelle Jessen/Herald-Leader Assistant Superintendent Jody Wiggins, right, shook hands with Charlotte Earwood, director of school improvement and student services, after the school board meeting on Thursday where Wiggins was named superintendent. Earwood was one of many school board members and administrators to congratulate Wiggins. He will transition into the new role on July 1.

Jody Wiggins was hired as the next superintendent of Siloam Springs School District during Thursday's regular school board meeting.

School board members unanimously voted to give Wiggins -- the district's current assistant superintendent -- a three-year contract with an annual salary of $155,765 as specified by his level of experience and education in the district's salary schedule. He will transition into the role of superintendent on July 1.

The decision came after school board members spent many hours in a series of special meetings over the past 10 days, interviewing the four final candidates during the week of April 1 through 4, meeting on Saturday to discuss the decision, then inviting Wiggins back on Monday for a second interview.

"I am excited to be offered the job and I'm honored to follow Mr. Ramey in this position," Wiggins said. "He has done a lot of great things for this district. I just hope to be able to continue a lot of those things and add my own touches here and there. We have a great school district, a great community and I'm thrilled to have been chosen for the spot."

Wiggins has worked in the Siloam Springs School District for 17 years and has held his current position of assistant superintendent and programs coordinator since January 2013, according to his resume. He has also served as programs coordinator, vice principal, assistant principal and athletic director in Siloam Springs. Previously, he worked in the Lincoln School District as a high school principal, math teacher and coach.

The search for a new superintendent began in January when current Superintendent Ken Ramey announced his plans to retire in June after a 52-year career in education. A total of 15 people applied for the position and the board narrowed the list to four final candidates during a special meeting on March 26.

The board also interviewed Cedar Ridge Superintendent Andy Ashley, Prairie Grove Assistant Superintendent of Finance Allen Williams and Paris Superintendent Wayne Fawcett.

During the hiring process, board President Brian Lamb said the board focused on the school's mission, vision and values.

Ramey commended the school board for going about the hiring process in a very professional way and committing themselves to many hours of preparation, meetings and interviews.

"I will say it's a young board but they function extremely well," he said. "I think this whole process has been a bonding experience for them and I see the opportunity for the board to work with a new superintendent and grow together in terms of leadership and working together and communication. I think that's hugely important and I salute each of you for your good-faith effort. They care deeply to get this correct and get it right and move us forward because children and teachers are at the heart of what we operate for and we should never lose site of of what's best for kids."

Board members also voted on Thursday to accept the resignation of Kristi Wiggins, Jody Wiggins' wife. Kristi Wiggins currently serves as the director of curriculum and instruction.

In a letter to the board, Kristi Wiggins wrote that if her husband was hired as the next superintendent, she would like to resign effective at the end of the school year.

"When I began in 2013, I shared with Mr. Ramey that when he decides to retire someday, I would do so as well," she said. "This plan was with the thought of my husband wanting to pursue his goal of becoming superintendent and we both felt it would be best if we were not employed by the same district when that became a reality. I support Jody's decision to apply to be the next superintendent and know he will serve the students, faculty and community well."

Kristi Wiggins went on to say that she truly enjoyed being a member of a district leadership team "who continually leads with what is best for students."

Board member Connie Matchell thanked Kristi Wiggins for all the work she has done for the district and said she has been an advocate for reading, supporting students with dyslexia, and Panther Health and Wellness Clinic, and has helped the district implement testing to evaluate student progress.

"You've done a lot to help support our kids around this district," Matchell said. "Your attention to detail is impeccable, so thank you for all the contributions you've made to the district."

General News on 04/14/2019

Print Headline: Wiggins tabbed for superintendent's position

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