Jeremy Wheatley chosen Dayton Schools' superintendent


March 14, 2024

-Chronicle photo

Jeremy Wheatley

DAYTON–The Dayton School Board voted to extend a contract offer to Jeremy Wheatley, pending contract negotiations, for the position of the school superintendent at their meeting on March 7.

Wheatley was one of three candidates who were the subjects of a day-long interview process involving school staff, students and the community March 6. Other candidates were current Dayton School Secondary Principal Guin Joyce, and Jodi Thew of Baker City, Ore., who previously lived in Waitsburg and was employed at the Prescott School District.

Wheatley is a 1994 graduate of Dayton High School and has experience at four school districts, most recently in the Wenatchee School District. His background includes work as the carpentry and Spanish teacher, industrial arts teacher, Dean of Students, Assistant Principal/Athletic Director, and, at Wenatchee, Director of State and Federal Programs since 2020, Interim Director of the Career & Technical Education (CTE) program (2019-2020), and Assistant Principal (2014-2019). 

"Yesterday, after the final meeting, the board went into an executive session for an hour and a half and took time to review all of the notes and review slips from everybody that chose to submit one," said Grant Griffen, board member. "We read the commentary, we put all the ratings together and it was clear that the community spoke to the candidate that they would like to have as their superintendent. It was also unanimous as we reviewed that information on how we felt who that candidate should be." 

The recommendation was approved by a unanimous vote of the board. The board ultimately had nine applicants for the position, and used an outside agency to vet and narrow the candidates down to three qualified applicants, who were invited to interview with the board on March 6. They were able to meet staff and students and tour the building throughout the day, and then in the evening attended a public forum where staff, students, and the community had the opportunity to meet the candidates, hear their qualifications, and ask questions. 

During the Meet the Candidates Forum, he addressed questions about how he would handle drug use, vaping, bullying, and keeping kids in the district. He stressed the need to involve parents in the education of students both inside the school and at home and creating policies that match the expected behaviors as well as taking swift action when needed. 

One question that was asked at the forum was what would the candidates do to promote parental rights in sexual identity, race, and education. Mr. Wheatley answered, "These are very real concerns, and where I see problems arise is when the extreme positions on one side or the other are taken. I believe the answer lies somewhere in the middle." He then continued that opening up the conversations to the public was most important. "I believe my job is to lead a school system that represents the values of the community," he said. 

Another question asked at the forum was what value do the candidates put on CTE. or Career Technical Education, and what programs would you be able to bring here? Mr. Wheatley has experience working with these types of classes as a CTE Director. He said, "we do not want too many elective classes. What you want now is a sequence of classes that are building towards something. Absent an opportunity the only thing I would add is apprenticeship or worksite learning."  He continued that if they can find worksite learning opportunities for highschool students they would still get the full time enrollment credit for that student, the school would still get funding, and the student will get real life experience. 

Jeremy Wheatly stated "as an outsider looking in I think that, like many communities, the political environment is a challenge, but I think there is a silver lining there. I am not afraid of difficult dialog. I think it's ok to open a forum to difficult issues. We need to educate one another of the scope of the board, the scope of the superintendent, and the scope of our local elected leaders, etc. So that some of those concerns and frustrations are being directed appropriately."  He also stated that he believes that a high spot for the district and the position of superintendent was the recent passing of the local school levies. 

Wheatley's  interests include reading, family, church involvement, home improvement projects, working with his hands with woodworking and cars, and driving combine on the farm. 

During the regular board meeting Board Chair Jeff McCowen stated, "A lot of people contributed to the process, and for that we [the board] are very thankful. We had three fantastic candidates. One we are familiar with who is employed here in our district, she is very qualified. We had Mr. Wheatley who has the opportunity to come back home, and that is very hard for us to ignore as a board. And then we had Mrs. Thew come who is not far down the road. Everyone was highly qualified but in the end the decision was pretty clear."

The board said that they received comment forms from over 230 people including staff, students, and community members. 

The current superintendent will work with Board Chair Jeff McCowen and Grant Griffen to negotiate a contract with Jeremy Wheatley, and if all goes well he will start to be on campus before the end of the school year. 

In a comment at the meeting via zoom Jeremy Wheatley said, "Thanks everyone. I am looking forward to the opportunity." 


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