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10-27-11: Letter from the school board on superintendent search process
10-27-11: Letter from the school board on superintendent search process

The following is a message from the Puyallup School Board regarding the search for a superintendent to replace Tony Apostle, who will retire in June.

Selecting a new superintendent is the single most important activity in which a school board engages. The way a board sets expectations for a new superintendent, searches for the best candidates, and makes a final choice should reflect important community values. For the Puyallup School Board, these values include experiences in building high-performing student achievement and instructional programs, a strong work ethic, high integrity, personal and professional openness, sensitivity to ethnic and cultural diversity, exceptional speaking abilities, succinctly written communications, and deep listening skills.

Our retiring superintendent, Dr. Tony Apostle, has served the district and community with distinction for the past eight years. Finding his replacement is an opportunity to confirm the current directions for the future of our schools and to dialogue about the most important leadership qualities we expect in a new superintendent.

At Monday’s school board meeting, the board took an important first step when it selected a professional firm to conduct the selection process. The board selected Dr. Dennis Ray of Northwest Leadership Associates. The firm’s first task will be to develop and conduct a thoughtful, timely process for gathering input from the board, staff, parents, and community to establish criteria for the selection process. We expect this process to begin next month.

It is important to hear and understand ideas from all elements in the community. This input will be enormously valuable in helping to identify and prioritize desirable leadership attributes for a new superintendent. To that end, the current board has purposefully delayed the superintendent recruiting and final selection until after the new board members are elected in November. This decision reflects an effort to engage newly elected board members’ participation in the superintendent selection process. While it is unlikely that citizens will agree on everything, there are bound to be broad areas of agreement that can provide a sound basis for identifying a large pool of qualified candidates. Community input will also help the board as it narrows the field leading to the selection of finalists who will be invited for interviews, as well as in making the final selection.

The board conducted a competitive consultant search process that led to the selection of Northwest Leadership Associates to develop and conduct the superintendent search process. In addition to conducting community consultations, Northwest Leadership Associates will use the resulting criteria to produce a pool of diverse, highly qualified, experienced, and competent candidates. One of the principal reasons for selecting Northwest Leadership Associates is its strong track record in developing and conducting excellent processes for gathering and using input from the community.

We hope to find a truly excellent leader for our schools who will make a long-term commitment to the district and community. We might find this educational leader close to home, but we expect to look at other highly skilled candidates who have had great success wherever they may be at the present time.

The Puyallup School Board strongly urges all stakeholders to constructively engage in the public process that will begin next month. We are committed to the most transparent, inclusive, community-wide selection process that we can have.

Thank you.

Cindy Poysnick, President
Pat Donovan, Vice President
Chris Ihrig, Legislative Representative
Greg Heath, Board Member
Diana Seeley, Board Member