By Nancy Covert
While the size of the audience at the “special” June 1 school meeting of Steilacoom Historical School District was considerably less than it had been at the May board meeting, disgruntled citizens weighed in with growing dissatisfaction about the current high school administrator selection process.
Since the early May board meeting, after which the top high school principal candidate decided to withdraw, the district has backpedaled on how it conducts the selection process.
Attendees at the meeting held in the district’s “Professional Development Center”—as the school’s one-time lunchroom has been renamed—included former school board member Duane Hardesty.
Having served eight years on the board, Hardesty told his listeners that the board and superintendent were required by law to follow specific guidelines during the selection process. He offered no specific suggestions, however, about how best to proceed in this awkward situation.
The general tone of audience comments focused on the growing lack of confidence in Superintendent Bill Fritz’s abilities to lead the district; grumbling about his seemingly lack of concern about what it means to work in this community.
While the district continues to give lip service to community involvement, it also contradicts its own guidelines, changing dates for holding forums, giving short deadlines for responses, creating even further confusion.
The rumored resignation of SHS assistant principal Andre Stout, as well as the departure of Pioneer Middle’s School’s interim principal, Paula Gayson, are the latest indications that all is not well in the district.
Some of the parents and attendees who voiced their concern were Denise Lowry, Jaimie Garrett, Mary Dodsworth, Brenda Leech, and John Leech who each voiced frustration about the situation.
Mr. Lee Goeke, former assistant school superintendent from Vancouver, with more than three decades of experience in helping districts with their administrative hiring processes, is acting “in an advisory capacity” to Mr. Fritz at this time.
In response to Mrs. Leech’s question about how much was being spent for this, Goeke said “less than $5,000.”