PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles School District has sworn in its new superintendent, Martin Brewer, while its current superintendent, Marc Jackson, eyes retirement at the end of the month.
“I’m really excited for the challenge of the job,” Brewer said after Thursday’s school board meeting. “My wife and I have recently moved to the area and we’re excited to be here and be active community members.”
Brewer is leaving his post as superintendent of Pioneer School District in Shelton to take the top administrative position at Port Angeles School District. His first day on the job will be Monday, July 2, he said.
The Port Angeles School Board selected Brewer as its next superintendent in February after a competitive process that drew candidates from across the state and from within Port Angeles School District.
Brewer said his first priority is to spend the first three months learning about the school district and getting to know the community.
He said he wants to get to know people at the school, business leaders throughout the community and community members.
As Brewer takes over the district’s top administrative position, the transition marks an end to Jackson’s 44-year career in education.
Jackson has led the Port Angeles School District for the past four years. He announced his retirement last June.
“For me, this is the end of 44 years that have been very special to me,” he said.
“It’s only as great as the people you work with and one of the nicest things I’ve had in this career is to end it on a positive note and work for just a wonderful group of people.”
Jackson said he plans to visit his grandkids in California and that he’ll spend much of his newly-found free time at the golf course.
One of his golfing partners, Clallam County Administrator Jim Jones, is also retiring in the coming months.
Jackson said the district is primed for Brewer’s leadership and that he is confident in his ability.
Jackson and Brewer each agreed that Brewer’s top challenge coming in is dealing with the district’s budget in response to the state’s new model for funding schools.
The state, in response to the state Supreme Court’s McCleary Decision, restructured school funding in an effort to create parity among school districts.
That restructuring cut Port Angeles School District’s flexible levy funding in half. The district will see a net increase because of a boost in state funding, but much of that funding is earmarked for specific things and is based on a “prototypical model.”
“Initially, with the new McCleary funding, we need to make sure we get our contracts settled,” Brewer said.
Eric Pickens, who heads the Port Angeles Education Association, welcomed Brewer to the district and told him teachers are eager to negotiate their new contracts during bargaining.
Dozens of teachers wearing red attended Thursday’s meeting.
“On behalf of the educators in the Port Angeles School District, we’d like to extend a warm and energetic welcome to you as our new superintendent,” Pickens said.
“We are looking forward to your leadership, and are confident that you are the right choice for our district, staff, students and our community.”
Pickens told Brewer that competitive compensation for teachers is paramount and is part of providing basic education.
“We deserve fair wages to attract and retain skilled educators who demonstrate empathy, compassion and self-efficacy,” he said.
Brewer said he also wants to address the capital needs of the district. The district has failed to pass a levy and bonds that would address the needs of the district’s aging buildings.
The most recent attempt at a capital levy narrowly failed in February, 50.64 percent to 49.36 percent.
Brewer said one of his accomplishments at Pioneer School District was when voters approved a $25.4 million bond to redo the district’s middle school in February of 2015.
The district had attempted to pass a bond 17 times over 14 years before voters approved that bond, he said.
“It was a really challenging and tough sale to our community, but with a lot of hard work and high levels of communication and transparency, we were able to pass the bond,” he said. “It was a big day for us.”
Brewer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the school district at 360-457-8575.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at email@example.com.