Jones leaving NKSD in June 2012

POULSBO — The North Kitsap School Board has yet to meet about recruiting a new superintendent. However, the search may turn out to be a community project.

Richard Jones, superintendent of the North Kitsap School District, announced June 23 he would leave at the end of his three-year contract. The board unanimously accepted his resignation. Jones’ last day on the job will be June 30, 2012.

“At this point, we haven’t had a chance to talk much about it,” board president Val Torrens said of hiring another superintendent.

The budget constraints the district faces continues to be the main topic of discussion, and time devoted to the discussion of a new superintendent will probably begin in August, she said.

The budget may factor into the search.

The last superintendent search, in 2008, cost $27,652.52, which was charged to the board’s budget, according to Director of Communications Robyn Chastain. Though Torrens knows money will have to be spent to find another superintendent, the amount could be reduced using a volunteer community search committee.

During the last search, the district hired a firm to seek out possible candidates. Of the total amount, $24,463.99 was paid to a consulting firm to conduct the search. The board narrowed the field of candidates from more than 20 to fewer than 10. All but two of those candidates got jobs with other districts, Torrens said. The district was left with a choice between Jones and one other person, she said.

Other board members were in favor of a search committee.

Kathleen Dassel said she could see using a combination of a firm and the committee as a possibility. Dassel, elected to the board after Jones joined the district, would not comment on the past hiring process.

“We haven’t made any decisions,” Dassel said. “But I would like to involve the community.”

Dassel said she wants a new superintendent “who is knowledgeable about the financial aspects of what it takes to run a district.” She said finding someone the teachers and administration trust and will work with to “move the district forward” is necessary.

Dan Weedin was not on the board during Jones’ hiring. He said finding alternatives to hiring firms may be the best option.

“I think we have a lot of talented and smart people in this community,” Weedin said. “Especially with the budget the way things are, firms may not be in our purview.”

Weedin would like to see a superintendent with strong communication skills and a “global vision.” A global vision would be looking at schools on a national level, not just the Olympic Peninsula.

“That’s not anything against our current superintendent,” he said, adding that he thinks of the position itself needing those things.

Ideally, Torrens said the actual search will begin in November when ads are released. By January 2012, she said she would want to start reviewing applications. And by mid-March, interviews with finalists would be conducted.

In terms of using a firm or the community for the search, “My feeling is that our community members could do a better job,” Torrens said.

Before Jones announced he would not seek a contract extension, he said his discussions with the board had led him to believe the board would like to go in a different direction.

Weedin said after the announcement was made,  “It came out of our ongoing conversations. I would just say that there was a meeting of the minds and he agreed and he thought this was the appropriate time to do it.”

The evaluation process began during a special board meeting on June 6 and continued on June 20.

Weedin said everyone — the school board and Jones — were in agreement that he should leave.

Jones succeeded Gene Medina in July 2008, after Medina retired. He has a three-year contract, which will end at the end of the 2011-12 school year. As of 2010, Jones was paid an annual salary of $140,420, with $10,409 in insurance benefits and $17,679 in other benefits.

Jones and the school board have been grappling with budget issues caused by an unforeseen drop in enrollment for 2010-11 and funding cuts from the state.

The school district so far has cut 28 full-time-equivalent positions. With a prediction of more enrollment declines in 2011-12, the district faces about $2.1 million more in cuts as it tries to balance the budget while maintaining a 3 percent unreserved carryover, which is about $56 million.

“The school board and I have agreed that it is a time for a change of leadership,” Jones stated in a district press release. “Our views on critical issues affecting the school district are not aligned.”

Next: The North Kitsap School Board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is July 14, 6 p.m., at 18360 Caldart Ave Ne, Poulsbo.


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