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Process to find LaRose's successor begins

Recent superintendents
Superintendent                                Years
Bill Lahmann                       1995-2001
Bev Cheney                        2001-08
Dave LaRose                      2008-12
South Kitsap School District’s board of directors wants an interim superintendent in place by Aug. 15.
That was among the deadlines set as the district’s search to fill Dave LaRose’s position began Thursday evening.
LaRose, who is leaving to become superintendent of the Culver City Unified School District in California, officially tendered his letter of resignation at the meeting, where he was present.
“I would like to personally and professionally thank you for your selfless service to the children, families and staff of the South Kitsap School District,” LaRose stated in his letter to the school board. “Your support of me and your trust in me has fueled my desire to exceed your expectations and has empowered me to lead with confidence.”
Board members thanked LaRose for his service, but noted SKSD also must move forward. That starts with hiring a consulting firm to help the district identify candidates. School board president Kathryn Simpson said four firms have applied for that role. The deadline to apply is 12 a.m. Saturday.
Simpson and fellow board members agreed to interview as many as four different consulting firms at 4 p.m. Wednesday. If more than four apply before the deadline, board members Keith Garton and Chris Lemke volunteered to review their portfolios during the weekend and cull them to four. On Wednesday, each group will receive 20 minutes to make a presentation.
Based on conversations with one consulting firm, Garton said the interim candidates likely will be retired superintendents. He said that is because candidates for superintendent openings who were not hired already have committed to their school districts for the upcoming school year.
John Richardson, who is vice president for the South Kitsap Education Association, then asked Simpson if the board was considering Bev Cheney. She was the district’s superintendent from 2001-08, when she retired. Cheney served as Bremerton School District’s interim superintendent during part of the 2008-09 school year when Bette Hyde left to become the head of the state’s Department of Early Learning.
“As school-board president, I’m hesitant to bring any names up in public,” Simpson said.
She said deputy superintendent Kurt Wagner, who died of cancer in April, would have been given LaRose’s position on an interim basis along with the opportunity to apply for the job if he were living.
“Had things been a little different this spring, we probably would all be sitting in a different position,” Simpson said.
School-board members agreed the same opportunity will apply to anyone who fills the position on an interim basis. Richardson said he does not like the idea of a interim candidate applying to be the full-time superintendent because that person might receive preferential treatment.
“There are perceptions that things were done without a process in the past,” he said, referring to the appointment of LaRose.
LaRose was SKSD’s director of school and family support when he was tabbed by the school board to succeed Cheney. The district did not enlist the services of a consulting firm when he was promoted, but did in 2001 when Cheney was hired away from the Washoe County School District in Reno, Nev.
School-board member Chris Lemke adamantly was opposed to barring an interim candidate from applying for the position full time.
“We’re going to have a lockstep process that is going to get us the best superintendent we can find,” he said.
Simpson said she understood Richardson’s concerns, but agreed that the interim should be able to apply for the position full time if that person is successful and interested in staying within the community.
“We would be remiss not to consider them,” she said.
Simpson said she hopes to have LaRose’s successor identified by next April with a start date of July 1.
• Simpson sought the school board’s approval to draft a contract through assistant superintendent of human resources Greg Roberts for “additional services” with LaRose. She said that would entail him traveling to the area to work with the interim superintendent, which Simpson said probably would last two days, when one is hired.
LaRose said he was amenable to that.
“I will do whatever I can to continue to support South,” he said.
• Garton expressed concern about how the search for a new superintendent would affect the district’s budget for 2012-13, but SKSD financial operations officer Sandy Rotella said a contingency also has
been placed in her plan.
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