News

Search for high school principal causing anxiety

District asking community for input on replacement

By Brenda Sexton

The Courier-Herald

The search for a principal to replace Terry Parker at Enumclaw High School has just barely begun and already the anxiety is surfacing.

Parker's vacancy was the hot topic of discussion during the Enumclaw School Board's regular meeting March 21 as concerns arose for a fair and open hiring process and the district outlined a detailed timeline for the process.

The board even changed the date of its April 17 regular meeting to April 24 to accommodate the announcement of a hire.

Parker, who has led Enumclaw High the past 14 years, was tapped for the district's curriculum and assessment director vacancy. In addition to Parker, the district is also searching for a replacement for EHS assistant principal Joe Kristof, who recently announced his retirement.

“There seems to be a high level of anxiety about it,” district Human Resources Director LeaAnna Portmann said. “It's an important, critical job that touches a lot of people.”

During her presentation to the board and in a phone conversation, Portmann said the hiring process is straightforward with extra opportunities, this time, for community input.

At the meeting, Portmann noted the interview committee will likely include some members of the teaching staff, community members Cathy Rigg (chamber of commerce director) and Mark Bauer (city administrator), Enumclaw Middle School Principal Steve Rabb, Parker, Portmann and a classified employee.

According to Portmann, the position has been posted and will close April 7. Screening interviews are expected to begin April 10 with additional interviews slated for April 17. The principal is expected to begin July 1.

Among the criteria the district is looking for - beyond the appropriate credentials, experience and strong leadership skills - is the ability to develop positive, supportive and collaborative working relationships with students, staff, parents and community members and an ability to lead the school's administrative and leadership teams in implementing the school mission and goals for improvement.

The position is posted for a 260-day contract with a salary ranging between $86,466 and $96,748 with medical, dental, vision, life insurance, professional dues and travel benefits.

Also at the meeting, Enumclaw Education Association President Kerry Malidore said placing small school liaison representatives automatically on the committee was not a popular decision by her group. Teachers, she said, had a highly-vested interest in the selection and wanted more latitude in choosing who would represent them on the committee.

In response to Malidore's request, Portmann said each small school selected its own representative on the committee.

Friday, District Superintendent Art Jarvis sent a letter home to families of eighth through 11th-grade students inviting them to attend a meeting at 6 p.m. April 5 in the Enumclaw High library.

At this meeting the district will be listening to parents' concerns and drawing up a list of characteristics to look for in the search.

In the letter, Jarvis also said the district plans to bring two finalists to a facilitated question-and-answer time with parents and community members at 6 p.m. April 19, again in the Enumclaw High library.

For those unable to attend the meeting Jarvis is taking suggestions by e-mail at art_jarvis@enumclaw.wednet.edu.

Portmann and Parker are also scheduled to meet with high school staff Wednesday morning to get their thoughts on the characteristics of a principal. The pair also planned to meet in the afternoon with a number of select students to pick their brains as well.

The district plans to fill Kristof's position before hiring a principal, a move one boardmember questioned.

Portmann said the decision was based on the large number of assistant principal positions open across the state with a limited number of candidates.

“We didn't want to be two weeks behind the hiring curve,” she said.

The district plans to fill Kristof's position shortly after conducting interviews on April 5. The recommendation committee will consist of two to three teachers, Kristof, Parker, Thunder Mountain Middle School Assistant Principal Ginger Callison, Jarvis and Portmann. Students will be invited to give the candidates school tours and report their own impressions of the final two or three candidates.

Brenda Sexton can be reached at bsexton@courierherald.com.

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