Sequim schools hires interim superintendent

SEQUIM — The Sequim School District has offered a six-month contract with its new interim superintendent.

Board directors on Monday, Jan. 3, unanimously agreed to offer Joan Zook a contract that would pay the former lead administrator of Shelton schools about $81,000 to oversee Sequim schools through the end of the 2021-2022 school year (June 30).

Zook — which rhymes with “book” — is a resident of Sequim’s Sunland neighborhood and succeeds Jane Pryne, who led the district for the past 13 months before announcing she was stepping down from the role at the end of December.

“The circumstances all aligned; she was looking for us, and we were looking for her,” school board member Larry Jeffryes said. “I’m really looking forward to the next six months.”

Jan. 3 was Zook’s first day.

Zook worked for Shelton schools from 1994-2011, first as director of Special Services (1994-1997) and director of Assessment, Instruction and Curriculum (1997-2000) and, for the final 11 years there, as superintendent (2000-2011) before she retired.

“I am grateful to you forgiving me the opportunity to steer the boat for a little while,” Zook said Monday.

School board directors are working with Human Capital Enterprises in a search for a permanent lead administrator.

Community and board interviews with finalists are scheduled for late February and early March.

With Harris’ help, the board plans to make a decision on the next superintendent by late March, with the next administrative leader stepping into the role July 1.

Graduation waiver

Board directors on Monday unanimously agreed to a resolution to offer high school students a waiver on some graduation-required credits.

The Washington State Board of Education’s emergency waiver program allows districts to seek waiver of graduation credits because of emergency circumstances; however, the state Board of Education requires that school boards must adopt by resolution their superintendent’s plan.

Sequim’s resolution notes: “The district will demonstrate a good faith effort … to help individual students meet credit-based and pathway graduation requirements through other options before considering the emergency waiver. The district will consult with the individual student, and make a reasonable effort to consult with a parent or guardian of the student, and will make a reasonable effort to provide information about this waiver in the preferred languages of the student, and of the parent or guardian of the student if applicable.”

Board president Eric Pickens said he’s happy to see the district looking for a way to provide flexibility for Sequim students.

This policy update takes into account any waivers needed based on the impact of COVID, Zook said.

“I think it’s well thought out, well discussed, well planned, follows the law and (is) appropriate,” she said.

In other Sequim School Board action, directors voted to approve two donations: Clallam Transit passes for McKinney-Vento students and those with truancy issues, a donation valued at $3,600; and $1,710 in gift cards from the Sequim Sunrise Rotary Foundation’s Joe Rantz Youth Fund, going into Christmas stockings for McKinney-Vento students.

The McKinney-Vento Act helps students who “lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.”

“McKinney-Vento is a program that doesn’t receive full funding, so we really appreciate this funding from the Sequim Sunrise Rotary,” director Jim Stoffer said.

Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at editor@sequimgazette.com.

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