Vancouver Public Schools enters next phase in search for new superintendent

A total of 34 people applied to replace Steve Webb who is retiring at the end of the school year

VANCOUVER — A replacement for outgoing Vancouver Public Schools Superintendent Steve Webb could be selected within the next month.

A total of 34 people applied for the job by the deadline on Wednesday, said Pat Nuzzo, a district spokesperson.

Vancouver Public Schools Superintendent Steve Webb, pictured at a meeting in 2019, is set to retire at the end of June. File Photo
Vancouver Public Schools Superintendent Steve Webb, pictured at a meeting in 2019, is set to retire at the end of June. File Photo

Informing the search will be a community survey, which received 637 responses, a “very large number,” said Dr. Steven Lowder with McPherson & Jacobson, a consulting firm hired by the district.

“People are very, very passionate about education in this community,” Lowder said. “Not only your dedicated staff, administrators, teachers and support staff, but the community at large is very engaged, very supportive.”

That report, which had not yet been released as of this publication, focused on key areas the community would like to see the district focus on when finding a replacement for Webb, who announced in November that he would be retiring at the end of June after 14 years as the district’s top administrator.

“Your communities of color and poverty feel underserved,” said Lowder, noting some of the key takeaways from the survey. “That should not come as a surprise to anyone. So certainly, that’s something that will need to be addressed by the new superintendent.”

The key traits people who responded to the survey were looking for in a new superintendent included someone who is visible, honest, approachable, and a visionary leader who does so with integrity and empathy.

“Certainly, a master of conflict resolution, and a person who has a history of working closely with the board,” Lowder summarized.

Vancouver Public Schools Superintendent Steve Webb, pictured at a meeting in 2019, is set to retire at the end of June. File Photo
Vancouver Public Schools Superintendent Steve Webb, pictured at a meeting in 2019, is set to retire at the end of June. File Photo

McPherson & Jacobson will be tasked with looking through the list of candidates, said Lowder, using a “three deep” investigative process to weed out candidates who may be “somewhat different from what they have on their paperwork,” said Lowder.

The Board will get the chance to view the full list, but Lowder said his firm will bring forward a list of between five and 10 that they recommend as finalists.

McPherson & Jacobson would then come back before the board to present the final list, along with their reasons for the choices. Board members could add back anyone else they wish to interview.

The final list of top candidates will be released publicly, likely in mid-February, and the board plans to hold one or more public forums to interview finalists before making a final decision.

At present, the timeline calls for a decision to be made in late February or early March, with the new superintendent taking over as soon as Webb steps down on June 30.

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