Sequim schools pick assistant superintendent

Neal is principal at Spokane’s West Valley High School

With retiring Sequim School Board member Sarah Bedinger (foreground) looking on

With retiring Sequim School Board member Sarah Bedinger (foreground) looking on

Gary Neal, principal of West Valley High School in Spokane, has been hired to fill the position of Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning for the Sequim School District.

His position begins July 1. Neal has been principal at West Valley since 2006.

The Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning provides leadership for the district’s curriculum, instruction, assessment and technology programs.

No stranger to the Sequim area, Neal’s father lived in Sequim for 20 years and his sister, Pat Quinet, teachers third grade at Greywolf Elementary School.

Neal has a Superintendent’s Certificate from Washington State University, a master’s degree in Administration and Curriculum from Gonzaga University, Continuing Elementary and Secondary Teacher certification from Eastern Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education from Washington State University.

Sequim schools superintendent Kelly Shea said Neal stood out among other candidates for his “knowledge, experience and success record at West Valley High School” and interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and CTE (Career and Technical Education) courses.

“Plus, he wants to be here in Sequim,” Shea said, rather than using the job as a proverbial stepping stone to another job.

Neal fills the position previously held by Vince Riccobene, who is moving to Sequim Middle School as the school’s principal, also on July 1.

“His background and experience will help strengthen the academic learning opportunities for kids,” Shea said.

Hi-Cap changes loom

After hearing from parents of Highly Capable (Hi Cap) students about problems they have with the program, Shea said he and staff are looking into making changes.

“The first thing on our list will be, ‘How do we engage our families?’” Shea said.

He said that while parents can agree about some things — greater course rigor, higher expectations, etc. — there is some disagreement about what the Hi Cap program in Sequim should look like.

Shea and Neal will be tackling that issue this summer, Shea said.

“We believe we are on the right track,” he said.

Additions to the board

The Sequim School Board on Monday night said goodbye to one board member and targeted an August date to fill her position.

Sarah Bedinger, board director since 2002, completed her final meeting after announcing in May she would step down from the board.

Current board members will appoint a replacement to fulfill her position through November 2015. Board members and staff will complete interviews on July 21 and deliberate qualifications, but won’t make a decision on the appointment until the Aug. 4 board meeting.

Bedinger is director of District I, which spans much of the western half of the school district, including Carlsborg. Applications will be accepted at the school district office, 503 N. Sequim Ave., through July 15. See the school district website ( for a director map and more information, or call 582-3260.

The board did fill a position Monday night, however, adding junior-to-be Ben Hughes as student representative the board. Hughes joins senior-to-be Kailee Price as student representative.

Approvals, meeting date changes

The board approved five sets of curriculum last night, including texts for four advanced placement courses (computer science, economics, language and U.S. history) and one algebra course.

Sequim’s school board also approved hikes to the cost of school meals, aligning closely with what nearby districts are charging.

The board unanimously changed some dates to upcoming board meetings, including the Aug. 18 meeting to Aug. 20 (scheduling conflict with one board member) and moving two board meeting dates in September to Sept. 8 and Sept. 22.

Staff changes

The board also offered contracts to teachers Sue Caron, Patrick Caron and Elisa Howard (Helen Haller Elementary); librarian Sheri Kruckeberg (Helen Haller Elementary); counselor Melee Vander Velde (Sequim High School); para-educators John Morton, Kathryn Schaller and Kim Williams and assistant girls soccer coach Brittany Murdach (Sequim High School).

The board similarly accepted resignations from Don Lichten, Sequim High School teacher and assistant coach; Amy Boyer, Helen Haller Elementary teacher; Clara Wyckoff, Greywolf Elementary teacher and Garrett Smithson, Sequim High School girls golf coach.

The board approved Maria Roragen’s change from Sequim High School registrar to district data specialist.


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