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SCHOOLS | Superintendent candidate visits begin

Jay W. Hummel was the first of three South Kitsap School District superintendent finalists to visit the district Monday.

Hummel, 59, who has been superintendent of the Kuna School District in Idaho since 2005, was selected among seven semifinalists by the school board Thursday. The other candidates are John Steach, superintendent of Canby School District in Oregon, and Port Angeles deputy superintendent Michelle Reid. Steach is scheduled Wednesday to tour schools and meet with staff, parents and community members Wednesday with Reid following Thursday.

“I’m potentially leaving a pretty good situation,” Hummel said during a phone interview Monday. “All indications here are the community is an integral part of the school district.”

While Hummel never has lived in this state, he said his son is studying at Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Hummel said he and his wife also have frequently visited Seattle and have made trips to the West Sound.

“My wife and I have always been fascinated by the area,” said Hummel, who serves a school district with 5,000 students. “This area is more like where we live now. When we saw this opening, we jumped.”

Hummel, who played rugby and basketball at the College of Idaho, began his career as a high-school English teacher. Based on that experience and his management background, Hummel said instructional leadership would be a top priority for him. That encompasses regular meetings with staff on curriculum development and evaluation of teaching methods to achieve the best results.

Before he was hired in Kuna, Hummel served as superintendent for Idaho’s Nampa School District from 1996 to 2005, where he said he had extensive labor negotiations experience. One highlight of his tenure there, he said, was reducing teacher turnover from 25 percent to less than 5 percent.

Hummel also was involved with a successful bond in Nampa before the recession that resulted in the construction of several schools. He said that slowed in Kuna as the district has experienced a $7 million budget cut the last three years.

While Hummel said he has a strong working relationship with the school board in Kuna, he expressed frustration with Idaho state officials regarding budget cuts. The idea of working in a more “synergistic environment” appeals to him.

He said that extends to the district’s “Whole Child” concept, which aimed to make each student feel safe, healthy, cared for and supported, engaged and connected, and challenged.

“We have to build partnerships,” Hummel said. “We would be part of those systems. I have been impressed that SKSD and community have reached out to do that.”

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