Evergreen School Board selects Mike Merlino as district’s superintendent

Merlino became interim superintendent in February following the resignation of John Steach

VANCOUVER — The Evergreen School Board unanimously selected Mike Merlino as Evergreen Public Schools’ next superintendent at Tuesday’s (April 16) School Board meeting.  Merlino, who has worked in public education for more than 30 years, and at Evergreen since 2000, was appointed interim superintendent in late February following the resignation of John Steach.

Evergreen School District Superintendent Mike Merlino is shown here at a Board of Directors meeting. Photo by Chris Brown
Evergreen School District Superintendent Mike Merlino is shown here at a Board of Directors meeting. Photo by Chris Brown

Board members cited Merlino’s calm, thoughtful and collaborative leadership over the years, and in particular, the last several months, in tackling difficult and complex issues. “Mike’s common sense, practical approach to problem-solving and seeking thoughtful solutions from throughout the district will serve us well. He is committed to doing right by our students and staff,” stated a news release from the Evergreen School District.

State and legislative leaders frequently call on Merlino’s expertise. Governor Christine Gregoire appointed him to the Washington Learns K-12 Advisory Committee. He served on the Washington State Legislative Joint Task Force on Local Effort Assistance and the Local Funding Work Group, and routinely advises state and federal officials on a wide range of education topics. Within Southwest Washington, he is a member of the Educational Service District 112 Workers’ Compensation Trust Executive Committee and Specialized Transportation Advisory Board.

Merlino’s long career in public education started in 1988 at Educational Service District 112 where he worked in various capacities including creating and overseeing the regional Business Services cooperative and as Assistant Fiscal Officer. In 2000, he moved to Evergreen serving as director of Budget and Operations, then chief financial officer, and most recently as chief operating officer.

Over his 19 years at Evergreen, Merlino has lead initiatives including processes to handle some of the highest enrollment growth rate in the state, offering the region’s first all-day tuition-free Kindergarten program, implementing a wide range of equity and inclusion programs in the face of growing family poverty, and passing the largest school construction bond in the state’s history.

During the recession years of 2007-10, Merlino guided the district through $26 million in budget reductions that left classroom resources intact, experience he notes, he continues to draw on as the district faces an upcoming budget shortfall next school year. “We recently completed a series of four Community Budget Forums where we heard ideas and suggestions from 500 people.”

“Evergreen has a long history of making collaborative decisions that are student-focused. That is the guiding principle we follow, and I will continue to champion as we move ahead on a number of issues and opportunities,” said Merlino. “This is one of the reasons I have enjoyed working in Evergreen for so many years- our talented employees never lose focus on why we are all here- it is our duty and our privilege to offer the best education to our students.”

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Information provided by Evergreen School District.

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