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School district considers in-house candidate

The South Kitsap community received its first opportunity to meet superintendent candidate Dave La Rose in a question-and-answer forum Wednesday at East Port Orchard Elementary.

La Rose took a few queries from school board members early in the meeting, the first of three public forums where he will speak as he seeks to replace South Kitsap School District superintendent Bev Cheney, who is set to retire after the 2008-09 school year.

La Rose will answer questions from the public at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the district administration office and 7 p.m. June 2 at Hidden Creek Elementary.

The school board is trying to decide whether to hire La Rose, an internal candidate, or contract with one of three search firms to locate one.

“It occurred to us that we should take a hard look at Dave before deciding to spend $25,000 to $40,000,” school board president Patty Henderson said.

She said she only learned about Henderson’s candidacy three weeks ago when he asked for a recommendation regarding a similar position in the Bremerton School District.

The board interviewed search firms on May 14, but then decided to first consider La Rose. They will vote at the June 4 meeting on whether to appoint him as Cheney’s successor.

In addition to the cost, Henderson said it’s becoming more difficult to find quality candidates because of inadequate funding for schools and the accountability of the No Child Left Behind, and other state and federal mandates.

“It’s a very challenging job, and not as many people are applying these days,” Henderson said.

La Rose said his passion for education has existed since he walked through the hallways as a student.

“I believe one thing I will bring ... is an absolutely positively unwavering love of children,” La Rose said. “I will be verbal. I’m a very passionate individual.”

While La Rose works in the district, he lives in Gig Harbor. He said he always has lived one district away from his job.

“That’s been a family decision,” he said, adding that it isn’t an issue for him because he will be accessible and committed to the job. “Part of that is selfish in that my family and wife like my attention when we’re at the supermarket.”

La Rose, who is assistant superintendent for school and family support, was hired into that position two years ago. He was hired by SKSD in 2004 as principal at Orchard Heights Elementary School after moving with his family from Gilbert, Ariz.

He was director of community schools there and guided before- and after-school programs.

He has been a teacher, middle-school assistant principal, elementary-school principal and assistant superintendent.

La Rose earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Lyndon State College in Lyndonville, Vt. and a master’s degree in education from Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn.

He received his superintendent certification in Arizona.

The district seeks comments and questions about La Rose.

For more information, visit www.skitsap.wednet.edu or call (360) 874-7002.

Meeting Schedule

• May 28: 5 p.m. at the district office, 1962 Hoover Ave. SE.

•?June 2: 7 p.m. at Hidden Creek Elementary School, 5455 Converse Road SE.

•?June 4: 6 p.m. at the district office.

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