Tue, Jan 19, 2021
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Toledo Board hires firm in search for superintendent

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The Toledo School District has selected a consultant to lead the search for a new superintendent after Superintendent Sharon Bower submitted a letter of resignation last month.

Northwest Leadership Associates (NLA), based in Liberty Lake, was chosen out of three firms vying for the task and, though their estimate had been the most expensive at $8,200, members of the School Board said they felt the services offered by NLA, including online publication of the vacancy as well as surveys for the community, more than made up for the higher rate.

"They're not that much more expensive, and they don't have the hidden costs," said Board Member Heidi Buswell, noting the only fees the district would be expected to pay on top of the flat rate would be travel costs for when an NLA associate assigned to the school travels there from Olympia.

According to a proposal submitted by NLA, the position of superintendent is expected to be advertised widely by Jan. 5 after meetings and surveys are conducted with district staff and constituents to determine what qualities the local community is looking for in a superintendent.

A final candidate, if one is found to be acceptable by the board, is expected to be offered a contract by April 1, while NLA said, if the first search does not produce a hirable candidate, they will conduct a second search with no added cost to the district.

The board also noted the President of NLA, Dennis Ray, is a graduate of Toledo High School and, having grown up in the area, will likely be more sensitive to the needs of the community.

"I think that he might show a little more care," said Board Member Jerad Buswell, with the board also noting NLA employs Toledo graduate George Murdock as an associate, whose father was a prominent resident and is the namesake of the high school gymnasium.

The board had begun their search for a new superintendent after accepting Bower's letter of resignation during their Nov. 25 meeting, with Bower stating she was in need of a lower-impact job after being diagnosed again with breast cancer in August and undergoing a mastectomy in October.

Bower had completed chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer in 2013 after having been diagnosed a first time the year before. She said, after this recent recurrence of cancer, she believes she needs to find a lower-impact position and will be resigning effectively June 30, 2015.

"I'm blessed that I don't have to have further treatments," she said of her recovery, stating residents should keep in mind she will continue to remain committed to the district until her last day this coming summer. "You'll get 110% of me, just like before."

When asked what her plans will be after departing from the district, Bower said she is uncertain, as she has spent 32 years as an educator and feels her calling is within that occupation, but said she is keeping her options open at this time.

"My heart and mind to be open to whatever opportunities present themselves," she said.

On top of selecting a new superintendent, the board is tasked with reconsidering a bond measure to be put before voters this coming February after a request for a $23.5 million bond failed by a wide margin during the November general election. A resolution placing such a measure on the ballot is expected to be discussed during the board's meeting this Thursday night.

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