The Yelm School Board unanimously voted 5-0 Thursday evening to appoint Brian Wharton as the district’s next superintendent.
“I was humbled,” he told The Olympian.
Wharton, 52, of unincorporated Thurston County near Lacey, has been principal at Yelm High School since 2010. Prior to that, he was an assistant superintendent for five years in North Thurston Public Schools. He has also served as principal at several North Thurston schools, including River Ridge High School and Nisqually Middle School.
The Yelm School Board announced its decision on a statement posted on the district’s webite. It reads, in part: Wharton has “dedicated 29 years to education and brings a wealth of experience as an assistant superintendent of human resources, building principal, teacher and coach. Yelm is excited about the leadership he brings to our district.”
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Wharton will replace Superintendent Andy Wolf, who has led the district since January 2009. He recently announced that he’s leaving to become assistant executive director of the Washington Association of School Administrators.
“The awesome thing is, Andy will be there to mentor me, and we’re developing a transition plan,” Wharton said.
Wharton grew up in Spokane, and has an undergraduate degree from Whitworth, a master’s degree from Western Washington University and superintendent credentials from Washington State University. He and his wife, Cathy, an office professional at Timberline High School, have two sons in college.
Wharton said he’s going to miss working at Yelm High School, but he’s excited about his new post, which he’ll officially take over July 1. He said he’s still negotiating with the School Board on a contract, so he’s not sure if he’ll have to relocate to the district. But he said he’s open to doing that, if needed, because he already feels invested in the district.
“I’ve never experienced such a community approach to education,” Wharton said. “When we say Yelm Community Schools, that really means something.”
He said one of his first tasks will be coming up with a plan to deal with overcrowding in the district’s schools.
Voters in the district have twice rejected recent construction bond measures that would have rebuilt and expanded several school buildings in the district.