NIANTIC – Sangamon Valley Superintendent Ernie Fowler will be leaving at the end of June to take a new position in Nashville, Ill.
“The time has come,” Fowler said. “I've been here for seven years.”
For all of those seven years, Fowler has driven home to Harrisburg on weekends, where his family lives. His wife is a teacher in Hardin County. He said he often worries that if there is an emergency and they need him quickly, he's four hours away. Moving to Nashville will put him considerably closer.
“I'm certainly not leaving (Sangamon Valley) because I'm unhappy,” he said. “I think Sangamon Valley is a great place.”
He signed a contract with the Nashville district Monday, and his successor is just downstairs: Sangamon Valley High School Principal Bob Meadows, who earned his superintendent certificate two years ago and served his internship under Fowler.
“The school board felt they wanted continuity, and they liked the way the district has gone for the last seven years,” Fowler said. “I advised them to just go ahead an appoint him so there will be a smooth transition.”
The board agreed and also voted to move middle school Principal Jonathan Field to the position of high school principal, and Illiopolis Grade School Principal Cody Trigg will take over the middle school. Fowler said the position of elementary principal will be posted internally first.
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“The good news about the way this happened is we have a good six months of transition that can take place,” Fowler said. “That's what I advised the board. If you have confidence in the current administrators, you can allow this to take place, and we can work together.”
Nashville is a high school district, with seven elementary schools, public and private, that serve as feeder schools from independent districts surrounding Nashville, said Wendy Davis, Nashville's current superintendent who is retiring in June.
The district covers 325 square miles in Southern Illinois, about 50 miles east of St. Louis, and serves approximately 400 high school students. Fowler starts there July 1.
“We have been very fortunate to have Mr. Fowler with us for the past seven years,” said Stephanie Guererro, Sangamon Valley school board member. “He is fiscally responsible and has cut our budget significantly without cutting services or activities to our students. I feel it will be an advantage to our district to have (Fowler and Meadows) working side by side over the next six months to allow for a seamless transition.”