District 150's school board president says there was not one characteristic that put Jon Bateman above the rest during the interview process to fill a vacant board seat.
The board Thursday appointed Jon Bateman to the District 3 seat left vacant last month when Sue Wolstenholm resigned.
Bateman was among eight people who applied for the seat and were interviewed by board members over two days this week. One of the applicants, former board member Laura Petelle, removed herself from consideration the day after her interview.
Board president Debbie Wolfmeyer tells 1470 & 100.3 WMBD she was "pleasantly surprised" with the process.
"It went very well. It went very smoothly," says Wolfmeyer. "We had good candidates and we looked at all of them. I'm sure each board member saw something different but, at the end of the day, the board just felt (Bateman) is the best fit at this time."
Bateman is an industrial engineer at Caterpillar and recently retired from the Army after 29 years of service. His daughter will be a junior at Richwoods High School. Bateman and his wife are active in the Richwoods PTO and participated in the district's "Parents as Leaders" program during the last school year. Bateman also began serving on the Peoria Council for Continuous Improvement.
Wolfmeyer deflects criticism Bateman will be a "yes man" for the administration and board.
"We don't have 'yes people' on the board now, even though some people believe contrary to that," Wolfmeyer says. "Especially with (Bateman's) military background, I believe it's evident he's going to be an independent thinker and he's going to make up his own mind about different issues. That's what we need."
"I think (Bateman) will bring some new perspective with his travel all over the world and his military background. I don't think he's going to be a yes man."
Bateman's family has lived in Peoria about a year. He home-schooled his son from second grade through high school while he lived in France, Japan and Hanna City. Bateman's wife graduated from Richwoods High School.
Bateman during an introductory news conference following his appointment used terms such as "olive branch," "fresh start" and "common ground" while talking about narrowing the gap between District 150 and the community.
Wolfmeyer feels board members collectively can do their part by being more visible.
"PTO meetings where we can talk to parents and events like 'Muffins with Moms,' just different things going on in the schools to get us out there so we can actually talk to parents," Wolfmeyer says. "Even when we do school visits we don't get to talk to parents."
"I think that's one of the things the board is talking about doing more."
Board members will formally vote on Bateman's appointment and he'll be sworn in August 11.
Bateman will serve until the next school board election next spring. That winner will serve the remainder of the seat's five-year term through June 30, 2019.
Bateman says, at this time, he plans to seek election to the unexpired term.