Interim superintendent search underway

The Sequim school district working with NWLA to replace Neal

With the Sequim School District Board of Directors selecting Northwest Leadership Associates for their search for both an interim and permanent superintendent, there’s important information to break down about what’s going to come next in the process of replacing Gary Neal as the lead administrator of the school district.

According to the company’s offer document, NWLA is charging the school district $13,800 plus travel expenses. Of that, $2,000 is set aside for the search for an interim superintendent. The company’s offer sheet states if an interim is identified and hired before the proposed timeline, the fee may be reduced.

NWLA’s offer sheet suggested that an interim could be in place by June 18, but that date may be delayed slightly.

NWLA’s stated timeline for hiring an interim superintendent is slightly slower than the school board’s original suggestion of having a hire in place by June 10; it was originally proposed by board director Robin Henrikson to give the interim some time to work with Neal before his departure.

Sequim School Board president Brian Kuh said that while the interim superintendent position has been officially posted and is being advertised by both NWLA and the district, the June 18 target date might be more “aspirational” — though he said he is still hoping to at least have a candidate identified by then.

“It’s very important to us to have at least some overlap so the interim can work some with Neal,” Kuh said.

Neal is set to leave the district when his contract expires on June 30.

In a special board meeting session on June 11, NWLA representative Dr. Roger Rada suggested that most of the available candidates would be able to be in place no later than July 1. He also offered an additional “workshop” day for NWLA to work with the interim superintendent shortly after being hired to help smooth the transition process on top of the half day already included in their contract with the district.

Kuh said that among the other priorities the board has for a potential permanent candidate is someone who can help pass bonds and secure funding for the district to repair and improve much of their facilities, something the district has been struggling with for some time.

Kuh noted, however, that the board’s desires will only be part of the consideration of a candidate, with NWLA set to employ focus groups and surveys with teachers and other staff as well as “key stakeholder groups,” including members of the community and district staff, to help build a profile on what kind of superintendent the district needs.

Kuh said he expected many local parents and community leaders to be included in the process.

Candidates were screened and considered in the board’s special session on June 11, with interviews set to be conducted at the next scheduled school board meeting on June 17.

The board has eight candidates to consider, a number Rada expressed pleasure with, noting that smaller districts like Sequim often “only get two or three applicants.” Those candidates’ identities have not yet been revealed to protect their privacy, but their experience is: four have served as superintendents, three as assistant superintendent or similar director roles, and one currently serves as a school principal.

Work toward finding a permanent superintendent would begin in November, according to the timeline in NWLA’s offer document. Rada suggested that the formal job posting would happen in December, and Kuh said board members anticipate the process going smoothly.

That information would in turn be used to draft the wording of the job posting, which should be placed in December according to NWLA’s timeline — which then states that candidates for the permanent superintendent position would be interviewed in February, and a decision made and a contract offered by the end of that month.

About NWLA

Northwest Leadership Associates (NWLA) is owned by Dr. Dennis Ray, a former superintendent in the Walla Walla and Northshore school districts in Washington.

Ray will be available to assist in the search, but the Sequim search will be led by Rada, a former superintendent of four different Oregon school districts. In 1984, he received a doctorate from the University of Oregon in Education Policy and Management, and his work in school administration dates back to 1979.

Rada will be assisted by his wife, Glenys Hill, herself a former superintendent of two Washington state school districts, and the current director of Washington State University’s superintendent certification program, a program founded by Ray. She received a Doctorate of Education from Washington State University in 1988, and she has more than three decades of experience as either an assistant or full superintendent.

Also available to help with the process is a team of six NWLA staffers, each of whom are former school superintendents in Washington or Oregon.

According to their offer document, NWLA has helped with more than 240 superintendent searches in Washington, Oregon and Idaho in the past 18 years, including last year helping the Port Angeles School District hire of superintendent Marty Brewer.

Sequim School Board directors noted that NWLA is the only search firm recommended by the Washington State School Director’s Association.

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