A new era has begun in the South Kitsap School District.
On Monday, Dr. Michelle Reid was sworn in as superintendent — taking over from Bev Cheney, who was appointed to fill in for the 2012-13 school year as interim superintendent. She served as SKSD superintendent from 2001 to 2008.
Reid was approved as superintendent on Feb. 20.
Before coming to South Kitsap, Reid was assistant superintendent of the 3,600-student Port Angeles School District. The 53-year-old Reid worked in the district for 28 years in various teaching and administrative roles.
Reid was a finalist for the SKSD interim superintendent position last fall and in March 2012 for superintendent of the Olympia School District. She was invited to reapply for the SKSD position when the superintendent search began last fall.
For the past several months, Reid and Cheney have worked closely during the transition. During that time, Reid was a target of some teachers after Cheney announced that SKSD sent out RIF (Reduction In Force) notices to more than 60 employees.
Many teachers questioned the new superintendent’s salary while the district was laying off teachers.
But Reid said her major goal is to do “the right thing” for the students in the district.
“If I stay focused on the initiatives that are already in place in supporting the ‘Whole Child’ and working hard to make sure every child has that ‘mountain top’ experience before they leave our district,” she said. “Then I think people will realize I am the right person for the job. I think I’m going to let my works speak for themselves.”
Last Friday, the state Legislature approved an operating budget, but SKSD officials don’t know how much of the $1-billion increase in secondary education funding will be allocated to the district. Most of the state funding is targeted for specific programs.
As the allocations are announced, Reid said she will be thoughtful about restoring positions.
“Where we can do with less, we’re going to need to because even though the state passed a budget, it’s not going to solve our financial problems,” Reid said. “We’re going to have simply do our work with fewer resources until we become more stable financially.”
On Tuesday, Reid said she met with South Kitsap High School principal Jerry Holsten and he asked to have some of the Certified Technical Education (CTE) positions restored.
“The CTE at the high school took a big hit,” Reid said. “But we did approve a 1.6 FTE (full-time employee) restoration.”
Concerning classroom sizes, Reid said some of the positions cut were because of enrollment decline.
“When you have fewer kids, you need fewer teachers,” she said. “We’re going to monitor class sizes, but we’re hopeful they will not be dramatically altered by the RIFs.”
Reid said she will make adjustments in classrooms when needed.
“Our goal is to make it a good experience for children,” she said.
Reid said the district made an adjustment to the intent-to-hire form. When the district posts positions, Reid will sign-off on the form.
“For the short term, I will exercise a little personal oversight on hiring teachers,” she said.
SKSD officials will begin with several employee unions, especially teachers, during the summer, but Reid feels both sides can reach agreements.
“I believe with all my heart — that while there are real issues that divide us at times, but more that unite us — I think we will find enough common ground to come to an agreement,” she said. “There are teachers in this district whose reputation is sound. And I had an opportunity to meet with them and they want the best things for our children.”
Reid will have to lead SKSD through ever evolving state and federal regulations for assessment of students, teachers and principals.
Three goals Reid said she would like to see accomplished in a five-year period are:
• To maintain the whole child focus of the district and to increase community partnerships with the district.
• Improve student achievement where needed.
• Have a solid financial base.
“I want to work hard to maintain strong ties with all the union associations to make sure — in five years — our house is more united than it is today,” Reid said.
Reid said she told her staff, “It’s going to take a whole district to support a ‘Whole Child.’ We can’t be fractured as an adult system and do right by our children. We need to stay together and remember what’s important.”
School starts after Labor Day and Reid said the district is “going to be ready.”
She said she’d like to be visible throughout the district schools during the year — announced and unannounced.
“I love children and it’s always fun to be in the classroom to see what they are thinking,” Reid said. “It keeps us grounded and that’s our focus.”
Reid and her husband purchased a home in South Kitsap. Her husband, Terry, works for the Port Angeles Fire Department.
The couple has four children — a 31-year-old son in Port Angeles, 30-year-old daughter in New York and a 21-year-old daughter and 18-year-old son, both of whom attend Gonzaga University.
In her spare time, she enjoys working out, tennis, snow skiing, biking and kayaking.
Reid is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and in 2012 earned her doctorate in educational leadership. She also served on the Washington Learns Task Force in 2005 and helped write anti-bullying legislation in 2001.