Port Angeles schools superintendent-designate eager to start

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Marc Jackson has landed a dream job in a place he calls “paradise.”

Jackson, the next superintendent of the Port Angeles School District, will also try to land a few salmon and steelhead when he arrives from the California high desert this summer.

“There’s a lot I need to learn,” Jackson said of his fishing skills.

“I’m really looking forward to learning everything I can about fishing and getting better at it.”

It was Jackson’s prowess as a school administrator that resonated with the Port Angeles School District Board of Directors, which voted unanimously Thursday night to offer him the job.

Jackson, 64, is the current superintendent of the Silver Valley Unified School District, based in the Mojave Desert town of Yermo, Calif., near Barstow.

He will replace fifth-year Port Angeles School District Superintendent Jane Pryne after she retires June 30. His first day will be July 1.

“It’s a really well-run district, and I want to continue with that success,” he said in a Friday phone interview from Southern California.

Jackson said he was “very excited” when he received the offer from board President Steve Baxter in a Thursday night phone call.

Baxter at the meeting said Jackson “aligns with our district and aligns with our strategic plan.”

Jackson was selected over co-finalist Rick Thompson, the San Juan Island School District superintendent, and 34 others who applied for the position. The finalists were interviewed in open sessions and attended a series of public forums last week.

A three-year contract will be negotiated “over the next couple of days,” Jackson said.

The School Board has budgeted as much as $155,000 a year for a superintendent’s salary, but Jackson’s final salary will be dependent on the negotiations.

Jackson said he will serve as Port Angeles schools superintendent “as long as the board will have me.”

The 1,233-mile journey from Yermo to Port Angeles will be a familiar one for Jackson.

He and his wife of 38 years, Jaki, have owned a second home off Place Road west of Port Angeles for 18 years.

They have spent their summers camping in and around the North Olympic Peninsula for three decades, beginning when Jaki Jackson’s father worked as a naturalist for Olympic National Park.

“Being in the Pacific Northwest is like being in paradise,” Marc Jackson said.

Jackson said his first order of business with the school district will be getting to know his new colleagues.

“Teamwork is a big part of my philosophy,” he said.

“You have to built trust.”

Once he gets settled, Jackson will turn his attention to a planned February 2015 bond measure to replace the aging Port Angeles High School.

School Board members voted 4-1 in January, with Sarah Methner opposed, to put an $80 million to $100 million bond measure on the ballot.

“A big part of what I’m going to be doing is building support for the bond measure so we can upgrade the school,” Jackson said.

“We’re really going to try to reach out to our community and to our taxpayers. I’ve got to hear from them and try to get their support.”

Another top priority for Jackson is to hire an administrative assistant who will work closely with teachers and principals.

Former Deputy Associate Superintendent Michelle Reid left in June 2013 to become superintendent of the South Kitsap School District.

Jackson also plans to hire a director of special education.

“It’s crucial to get a director in that position that meets the needs of special education students and works with parents to do that,” Jackson said.

Jackson said he will encourage investments in energy-efficient infrastructure and “continue to recognize the great accomplishments of the staff and students in the district right now.”

References told Port Angeles School District officials that Jackson empowers employees, does not micromanage and focuses on student success, Baxter has said.

Jackson, an avid tennis player and golfer, has served as superintendent of the Silver Valley Unified School District for the past eight years.

The Jacksons have two adult children living in San Diego: Courtenay, 41, an engineer, and Colby, 36, who is training to become a firefighter.

“We spent a good part of 30 years camping and doing all the things you do as a family,” Jackson said.

“In the summer, we were always heading to Port Angeles.”

Silver Valley is home to Fort Irwin, a U.S. Army training base, and children of military members assigned to the base attend the district’s schools. It has an enrollment of about 3,000, compared with the Port Angeles School District’s 3,800.

Prior to his service at Silver Valley, Jackson served as assistant superintendent of schools and personnel in the Oxnard, Calif., School District. He has been principal at two high schools and a middle school in California.

Jackson studied history at La Verne College on a basketball scholarship and went on to earn a master’s in education from California State University, Fullerton, and a doctorate of education in educational leadership from the University of La Verne.


Reporter Arwyn Rice contributed to this report.

Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 29. 2014 6:07PM
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