School board strives for transparency, consensus in search for new superintendent

POULSBO—The North Kitsap School District conducted an all-day session Feb. 25 to interview six semifinalists for the position of school superintendent, starting next July. The new superintendent will be replacing NKSD Superintendent Patty Page, who is retiring at the end of the 2016-2017 school year.

The six candidates were Martin Brewer, superintendent of the Pioneer School District, Shelton, Washington; Dr. Laurynn Evans, assistant head of school at the private Francis Parker School, San Diego, California; Kurt Hilyard, superintendent of the Union Gap School District, Union Gap, Washington; Ray Houser, executive director of assessment and student services, Marysville School District, Marysville, Washington; Dr. Christine Moloney, chief academic officer for the Puyallup School District, Puyallup, Washington; and Kelly Raymond, the instructional leadership executive director, Highline Public Schools, Burien, Washington.

Both Brewer and Hilyard have superintendent experience, albeit in smaller districts. The others, while not superintendents, hold responsible positions and are “professionally prepared and ready to move up,” according to Northwest Leadership Associates, a consulting firm that is assisting the board with the search.

Each candidate had a one-hour interview with the board. To insure fairness, 20 minutes before their interview each candidate was given the list of 11 questions they would be asked to respond to during his or her interview. The questions were the same for all of the candidates and, to further assure fairness, each question was asked by the same board member during each interview.

Five of the semi-finalists were able to be physically present at the meeting. With the board’s permission, Dr. Evan’s interview was conducted by video conference as she had a previous commitment in Washington, D.C.

The school board’s search for a new superintendent began last November. The board’s goal has been to assure transparency and openness in the process. So, the search began with a number of focus group forums and surveys designed to identify what stakeholders desired in the new superintendent.

The job opening was posted and, with the assistance of Northwest Leadership Associates, the number of applicants was winnowed down to the six semifinalists who were interviewed on Feb.25.

The February 25 interviews were open to the public and throughout the long day the size of the audience ranged between 15 to 25 residents, many of them faculty or retired teachers. While they were not permitted to ask questions of the semifinalists that day, they were given the materials and opportunities to write out questions for each nominee. These will be used at the interviews with the three finalists in March.

Following the last of the six interviews, the board went into executive session to determine which of the three candidates would be finalists. Over the weekend, the candidates will be notified of the board’s decisions. It is expected that the names of the three finalists will be released Feb. 28. Each of the finalists will then come to the district for one day to tour and to make presentations to school staff and the public. These meetings are tentatively scheduled for March 6, 7 and 8.

If needed, the board will conduct site visits to the finalists’ school districts.

Plans call for the board announce the name of the new superintendent and finalize his or her contract at its regular March 23 school board meeting.