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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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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