UPDATED: Sequim school board to seek superintendent search firm

With less than six weeks remaining on superintendent Gary Neal’s contract, Sequim’s school board is looking to have a replacement for the district’s lead administrator — albeit a temporary one — in place before his final work day.

Directors on Monday night agreed to seek at least three proposals from superintendent search firms that would help the district hire an interim superintendent, preferably before Neal’s contract ends on June 30.

The board reconvenes at 5 p.m. today, Wednesday, May 15, for possible selection of a search firm. (The meeting will be held at the district boardroom, 503 N. Sequim Ave.)

Board directors have received a proposal from Northwest Leadership Associates, board president Brian Kuh said, who would handle not only a search of an interim but also complete a full search for the permanent superintendent during the 2019-2020 school year.

Kuh also spoke of being in contact with two other search firms, one that the district has used in the past and one a larger national firm that offered their services to the Sequim school board unsolicted.

While Kuh said the board could perform an interim superintendent search itself, directors agreed Monday that hiring a search firm is a logical step.

“It seems to make a lot of sense, seeing as how I’m not a professional recruiter,” Kuh said.

“It’s imperative we get some assistance,” director Brandino Gibson said. He later added that the school board “needs to get this (hiring) done right,” a sentiment echoed by director Jim Stoffer later in the meeting.

“I would advocate for a condensed timeline,” board director Robin Henrikson said. “The sooner we can come to that June timeline, the more success that transition’s going to (have). I would love to have someone hired by June 10. I don’t know if that’s realistic; the process is important. We want input from all stakeholders. This should not be done in a vacuum.”

When asked for his thoughts on the process, Neal told board directors, “You have an ambitious timeline.”

Kuh said that he sought advice from Greg Lynch, superintendent of Educational Service District 114, regarding the board’s next steps, and that Kuh was advised there are likely several qualified individuals in the area who could step in to an interim superintendent position.

“(That) certainly brought my anxiety down a bit,” Kuh said.

Neal announced in early May he is stepping down from the position and will take a job with Vanir Construction Management, Inc. of Bellevue.

Neal has been with the Sequim School District since July 2014 when he was hired as Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning. He began his term as interim superintendent in July 2015 and was named superintendent in November 2015.

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