First day of school for new Port Angeles superintendent means new administrative team, too
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Marc Jackson pauses in his new office at Port Angeles School District headquarters. —Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles School District’s newest superintendent, Marc Jackson, took over as the top administrator Tuesday, ready to dive into the deep end as the district moves ahead with major projects.

On his agenda is a new high school and completion of the implementation of the Common Core-aligned curriculum — with two new school principals and a revamped administrative team in the district office.

“Port Angeles schools are very well-run, very successful,” he said from his new — and still bare — office Tuesday morning.

“I want to continue that success.”

Jackson attended a School Board meeting and was sworn in as superintendent June 26, when he sat in on his first workshop for putting together a construction bond measure for an upcoming election to fund replacement of aging Port Angeles High School structures at 304 E. Park Ave.

All but two of the high school buildings are 60 years old, and the buildings’ basic systems are deteriorating, according to school officials.

The Port Angeles School Board is aiming at placing a bond measure on the February ballot but may delay the ballot question if more preparation is needed, board members have said.

The amount of the bond hasn’t been decided, but an estimate of $80 million to $120 million has been made.

“We’re going to pass that bond,” Jackson said.

The high school buildings are not the only aging structures in the district. Franklin Elementary is 60 years old, and Hamilton is 58.

The board has said it is focusing on the high school before considering elementary school needs, saying the elementary schools are in better condition than the high school.

Jackson will visit and tour each of the district schools today.

He already has had a chance to discuss the current conditions of the older school buildings with Nolan Duce, facilities manager.

“One school has water issues; another other has flooring issues. To fix it is $50,000 here and $60,000 there,” Jackson said.

“It’s a credit to the maintenance department that they been keeping the schools going for that amount of time.”

Jackson said he plans to spend a lot of time talking to members of the community to share what he has learned about the condition of the schools.

Jackson also will oversee the implementation of Common Core curriculum in district schools in 2014-15.

Common Core is a set of educational standards that encourages curriculum designers to integrate multiple subjects into a single lesson, he said.

For instance, a sample Common Core lesson on armadillos would include learning the geography of where they live, the life science of what they eat and how they live, followed by additional research and writing a paper.

Jackson said he has been preparing for the transition to Common Core standards for three years in his former role as superintendent of the Silver Valley Unified School District in Yermo, Calif.

“There are 43 states that have adopted Common Core. Common Core is here to stay,” he said.

Jackson said the new standards insure that new college students, no matter what state or school district they are from, have similar sets of knowledge tools and know they are prepared for college.

“These is more depth and breadth to it,” he said. “These are aggressive standards.”

Implementation of the Common Core will include working with a new team of top administrators, about half of whom are as new in their positions at the district as is Jackson.

Gerald Gabbard, assistant deputy superintendent; Brianne Barrett, director of special services; Kimberly O’Neil, director of human resources; Jeff Clark, interim principal of Port Angeles High; Jeff Lunt and Lillian Cone, assistant principals at Port Angeles High, Margaret Templeton, director of the North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center; and Michael Herzberg, principal of Dry Creek Elementary, all officially became district employees or were promoted into new roles Tuesday.

Many of them have never met or talked before this week.

“First we have to build teams, then make teams successful,” Jackson said.

Jackson said he has been in a district with all new administrators once before.

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

Last modified: July 01. 2014 6:17PM
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