Priorities defined for next superintendent

By Oliver Lazenby

The Blaine school board is actively looking for its next superintendent after narrowing its hiring criteria at a May 29 special board meeting. In April, current superintendent Ron Spanjer announced plans to retire at the end of August.

According to its criteria, the board is looking for someone who can creatively support teaching and learning, is child oriented, is able to work collaboratively, is fiscally-minded with practical accountability and recognizes that the Blaine school district is what brings Blaine, Birch Bay and Point Roberts together.

For more specifics on these criteria, visit

The school board will interview qualified candidates at a public meeting on August 10, and conduct a final round of interviews at an August 12 public meeting. Meeting attendees who witness all interviews will have a chance to comment during those meetings. Others can provide written feedback to the school board, said Tina Padilla, school district assistant to the superintendent.

If the board doesn’t like any of the candidates who apply this summer, it could hire an interim superintendent indefinitely continuing the search.

The school district’s consultant for the hiring process, McPherson & Jacobson, has already recommended Rich Stewart as a potential interim superintendent. Stewart, a retired superintendent with a permanent address in Ferndale, is currently wrapping up a two-year stint as an interim superintendent at the Kittitas school district, a district just east of Ellensburg with about 650 students.

Stewart has served as an interim superintendent in several districts since retiring from a full-time superintendent position at the Eatonville school district in 2013. He said in a phone interview that he has worked in 18 school districts. He spent 23 years as a principal and has 20 years of superintendent experience.

“After retiring I was asked to consider an interim position. I tried it and I enjoy the interim process,” he said, adding that being able to live at home in Ferndale makes the Blaine position appealing. “Eatonville is about the same size as the Blaine school district. I think that makes me a good fit.”

Ultimately, the school board would decide on who to hire as an interim superintendent.

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