Sequim School District’s superintendent Gary Neal stands with Trevor Carlson, managing director for PiperJaffray, on Jan. 14, where a forum served as a kickoff for discussions on future construction needs and bond and levy options. Neal is a finalist for an open superintendent position in Hockinson School District. Sequim Gazette file photo by Matthew Nash

Sequim School District’s superintendent Gary Neal stands with Trevor Carlson, managing director for PiperJaffray, on Jan. 14, where a forum served as a kickoff for discussions on future construction needs and bond and levy options. Neal is a finalist for an open superintendent position in Hockinson School District. Sequim Gazette file photo by Matthew Nash

Sequim schools superintendent finalist for Hockinson position

Sequim schools superintendent Gary Neal is one of four finalists for the Hockinson School District superintendent position in Clark County in southwest Washington.

The Hockinson School District announced the selection of finalists on Wednesday, Feb. 27, and Neal sent out a notice to Sequim School District staff the following day via email.

“Basically, (the Sequim School Board) is letting my contract expire in June 2020, so that means I become a free agent,” Neal said on Friday, March 1.

“I’m not going to wait till June 30 (2020) to see what happens.”

The other three candidates for the Hockinson position are: Steven Marshall, director of Educational Resources in Camas School District; Ellen Perconti, superintendent of Mary Knight and Grapeview school districts; and, Tony Vandermaas, executive director of Leadership and Learning in Longview School District.

The candidates were scheduled to spend March 4 in the district for a series of interviews with teachers and classified staff, Hockinson High School students, principals and district office staff, and the school board, Hockinson school officials said. Hockinson will also host a candidate community forum and open interviews later the same day.

Hockinson School Board members planned to meet March 5, to review the input, and would announce a selection later in the week, Hockinson School District representatives said.

Neal has been with the Sequim School District since July 2014 when he was hired as Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning working under then superintendent Kelly Shea.

He began his term as Interim Superintendent in July 2015 as the Sequim School Board sought Shea’s successor, but the board balked on three finalists, and removed Neal’s’ “interim” status on Nov, 2, 2015.

Neal has a year-and-a-half remaining on his contract. Sequim school board directors have twice reviewed Neal’s contract, in early 2018 and 2019 but declined to extend his contract.

Neal said he learned of Hockinson’s opening a few weeks ago.

“For me, it allows me an opportunity to look at another district, see their enrollment, staff, levies and bonds, and see if I’m a fit for it,” Neal said.

“After looking more into it and chatting with some folks in that area, I became more and more interested in it. It look like a good match.”

Brian Kuh, president of the Sequim School District’s board of directors, said Neal was interested in making a ove to be closer to family and that he would be inquiring about positions in other school districts. He said Neal shared with board members he was a finalist for the Hockinson position on Feb. 28.

“We haven’t had the opportunity to discuss this as a board yet; that said, I’m confident that my board colleagues are equally happy for Gary and supportive of him with whatever path forward he chooses,” Kuh said in an email.

“If he’s selected, our focus will be towards ensuring the smooth continuity of operations at the district a transition, and also for the completion of the strategic plan.

“Gary has led our district through the imminent completion of the Capital Projects Levy which has provided a clean slate for our future facility development. The board is excited to continue the district’s engagement with the community to determine what our next steps are for our schools.”

Prior to Neal’s employment in Sequim, he was principal at West Valley High School in the Spokane area for eight years. He taught for 16 years at the high school level and has served as an administrator at the middle school and high school levels.

He said he hopes to learn of the Hockinson School Board’s decision later in the week.

Neal said he hasn’t applied elsewhere but he’s been contacted by some consultants of other school districts.

Located in Brush Prairie just northeast of Vancouver, Wa., Hockinson has about 1,870 students, about 1,000 less than Sequim, in three schools: a high school, middle school and elementary school, along with a district office.

More in News

Extension of tax exemption for private airplane work approved by Senate

Proponents say the bill incentivizes work opportunity that would not occur otherwise.

Parents and teachers express concerns over mandatory sex ed

By Cameron Sheppard WNPA News Service Parents, students and educational professionals voiced… Continue reading

$1 million bail set in murder case

Deputies: Woman beaten to death with tequila bottle

Narrow Senate vote approves collection of gun violence data

By Cameron Sheppard WNPA News Service The Washington Legislature is closer to… Continue reading

Lawmakers move to lower cost of insulin in state

By Leona Vaughn WNPA News Service Bringing down the cost of insulin… Continue reading

Renton man arrested for connection to Blyn-area homicide

Authorities arrested a Renton man in connection with the murder of a… Continue reading

Lawmakers flinch on proposed ban of for-profit detention facilities

By Cameron Sheppard WNPA News Service Washington state lawmakers elected to prohibit… Continue reading

Jennifer States addresses Sequim City Councilors at a question-and-answer session for potential candidates for the vacant seventh council seat in January 2018 (States was selected from five candidates). States announced her intention to resign from the council on Feb. 18. Sequim Gazette file photo by Matthew Nash
Sequim City councilor States to resign

Sequim City Council member Jennifer States notified the City on Feb. 18… Continue reading

Clallam County seeks grant for reservoir

Commissioners OK pre-applications for water supply project off River Road

Most Read