Port Angeles schools chief details hurdles, victories of tenure

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles School District Superintendent Jane Pryne summed up her five years at the helm of the region’s largest school district succinctly for the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“It has been a fast, furious, fabulous five years,” Pryne said at Monday’s meeting.

Pryne, 58, who announced her retirement after 38 years in education in September, will depart on June 30.

She will be replaced by Marc Jackson of Yermo, Calif.

She began as Port Angeles district superintendent July 1, 2009, after serving seven years as superintendent of a district in the Tucson, Ariz., area and a year as interim superintendent in another Tucson-area district.

Pryne’s five years in Port Angeles began with decreasing enrollment, a high school graduation percentage rate in the low 70s, budget cuts and layoffs for 41 teachers and staff members in 2009, she said.

She described the process of going through the budget line by line with the school board, cutting programs by $2.9 million.

“It was awful. When it was done, I said that I never wanted to do that again,” Pryne said.

The district, with help from more than 88 community members, worked through a district strategic plan that would change the way the district does business and was completed and approved in 2011.

“It took hundreds of people hundreds of hours to get it done,” she said.

Pryne said that five years after arriving in Port Angeles, the district is anticipating an 85 percent graduation rate for the Class of 2014, state and federal funding is returning to the district coffers to bring programs and teachers back to the district, and for the first time in a decade, enrollment is increasing.

“This is the first time we have had wiggle room [in the budget] to get things done,” she said.

The district is preparing to ask voters in February 2015 to approve a construction bond to replace the 60-year old high school.

Pryne said that it is the district’s next major hurdle.

“It’s not that we haven’t done anything to maintain and upgrade the school,” Pryne said.

The school has aging, failing systems and lacks the basic infrastructure for modern educational technology, she said.

She said the district committee preparing the bond language, the amount of which has not yet been determined, and will keep the message to voters simple.

“This is what the problems are, and this is what we need,” Pryne said.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: May 05. 2014 6:52PM
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