Danny Mooers–Staff Writer
The Sioux Center Community School District has a new superintendent.
Gary McEldowny, the current Sioux Center High School principal has been selected to take over the position.
Current superintendent Pat O’Donnell will step down at the end of June after a 16-year stint in the district.
Before the school board started the interview process on Feb. 5, school board member LoriAnne Andersen joked with O’Donnell.
“Would you be willing to leave your shoes in the board room for the interviews so we know what we have to fill?” she asked.
O’Donnell thanked the board when he presented his resignation in mid-October.
“I feel blessed to be here and for so long,” O’Donnell told the board. “There was a culture of working together that already existed before I got here, and I feel fortunate to have come here and to be a part of that. And because it’s the culture, I know it will continue on no matter who’s here after I’m gone.”
The board and community members are grateful to O’Donnell and the things he did to make the Sioux Center Community School District better.
“We appreciate what you (O’Donnell) have done for the board and the district,” Sioux Center Community School District Board Chair Tim Gesink said to O’Donnell at the school board meeting in October. “The district is better because of you. You’re leaving behind big shoes to fill.”
The board is confident McEldowny will serve the community well.
McEldowny has been in education since 1995. He began as a classroom instructor and taught through 2001. In 2001, he was hired as a high school principal. Sioux Center High School hired him as principal in 2006. After 12 years, he received his promotion.
“Gary’s familiarity with the community is what set him above the rest [of the candidates],” said Gesink. “We’re confident that he was the best candidate.”
Members of administration, the board, parents of students and faculty all had the opportunity to interview each candidate for nearly an hour. All expressed the same confidence in McEldowny as the school board did.
All the candidates were current employees within school districts in Iowa, but none had the knowledge of the area that McEldowny does.
The board made their final decision at 10:45 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 5. The candidates had spent nearly the entire evening in interviews, only stopping for a short dinner break.