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Let the search for a super commence

POULSBO — The North Kitsap School District Board of Directors has taken the first step in finding a replacement for retiring Supt. Gene Medina. The board hired Cascade Consulting Group to head up the search during a regular board meeting Dec. 13.

“We felt they would be very aggressive in their search for our candidate and making sure we have just the right fit for the culture of our area,” said Board President Melanie Mohler.

Basic fees for the search are estimated to be from $14,000 to $17,000, which includes printing costs for the search and travel fees for the final candidates, she said. The fees will be paid out of the board of directors’ budget, which is primarily used for travel and election-related costs. The board of director’s budget varies from $30,000 to $60,000 annually.

If school board members decide to visit the finalists’ school districts, that will incur additional costs.

It’s commonplace among school districts to contract with consulting firms to hire new superintendents rather than tap their own human resource departments, Mohler said.

“Typically, school districts don’t use their human resources departments,” she explained, “because they don’t have the same ability and access in terms of setting up a superintendent search.”

An outside firm is also better suited to deal with the high level of confidentiality tied to superintendent searches, she said.

Cascade Consulting will begin the search by posting the job vacancy announcement on the Washington Association of School Administrators Web site. After the holidays, school board members will meet with Cascade Consulting to decide what characteristics they are looking for in a superintendent. Public input will be encouraged, as well.

Other NKSD news

The board also discussed, but did not take action on, a quandary concerning high school graduation ceremonies. Wally Lis, director of Curriculum and Assessment, told board members the high schools have a comprehensive plan to keep parents informed of students’ progress toward graduation.

In tracking students’ progress, they’ve become aware that come June, there will be a group of students who have completed the district’s required 21 units for graduation but have not passed the state’s Washington Assessment of Student Learning requirement.

Medina asked the board to discuss whether that handful of students should be allowed to participate in graduation ceremonies. While the state has specific requirements for earning a high school diploma, deciding who can participate in graduation ceremonies is a local issue, Medina said.

The graduating class of 2008 is the first one that must pass the reading and writing portion of the WASL to earn a diploma. In 2013, students must also pass the math portion of the WASL to graduate. Until then, students who pass the reading and writing but fail the math portion can receive a diploma if they continue to take math classes — or career and technical classes — and retake the WASL every year.

Lis assured the board members that students who haven’t passed the WASL are taking classes to help them overcome the challenge.

Board members saw participation in graduation ceremonies as an equity issue, and both English as a second language and special education students came into the discussion. Special education students are allowed to participate in graduation ceremonies but receive a certificate of attendance rather than a high school diploma.

After about an hour of discussion, the board did not have a recommendation.

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