School district superintendent candidates face the public

SNOQUALMIE - Last week parents, community members, staff and teachers got to ask the three finalists for the position of superintendent of the Snoqualmie Valley School District questions to determine how each would fit into the position.

Fred Poss of Mukilteo Schools, Larry Parsons of Selah Schools and Joel Aune of Colfax Schools were quizzed on everything from what they are currently reading to their philosophy on athletics.

Gayle Smith, a math teacher at Mount Si High School, wanted to know how the high school should deal with students who need remedial classes upon entering ninth grade. High-school athletic coordinator and parent Lynnette Wiegardt asked about the candidates' thoughts on standard-based report cards. She said a superintendent who was well-rounded, loves community and is talented with people would be a good fit.

"Someone who is able to mediate when they have to," Wiegardt said.

Other staff members asked for the candidates' philosophies on professional development for staff, wanted to know how they would get to know staff and students and what they were most proud of in their careers.

Cindy Sattler, a secretary in the district, said it's tough to imagine having a new superintendent that could compare with Rich McCullough, Snoqualmie Valley's current superintendent who will be leaving the district in June after 17 years to take a professorial position at the Everett campus of Western Washington University.

"It's hard because McCullough has been here so long. He makes it hard to think outside the box," Sattler said.

Claire Nold-Glaser, a parent, wanted to know how the candidates would develop a sense of community in the schools and how they might ease the transition for students from high school to their post-secondary lives. She also said she liked what Poss had to say about building community.

"It's so important for kids to feel a part of the school they attend. That attachment is critical," said Nold-Glaser, who mentioned that some of the qualities she looks for in a superintendent is inclusiveness, strong leadership skills and a progressive style. "Someone who includes students, teachers and parents in determining what's best for the district."

Other parents wanted to know how a new superintendent would deal with the recent boundary change and those disgruntled by it, what to do about substance abuse in schools and whether the small turnout for the forum was disconcerting.

Parent and former school board member David Reed said what's most important to him in a superintendent is vision, philosophy and how the person fits with the administrative team.

"You have to know how to fit with the district culture," Reed said.

The district board of directors is expected to offer one of the men a contract later this month.

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