CHIMACUM — David Engle, a retired Port Townsend School District superintendent, is filling in for Chimacum School Superintendent Rick Thompson while Thompson is on administrative leave.
Engle started work Monday after the school board made the decision last month in an open meeting. His pay will be pro-rated to Thompson’s salary for two months, Engle said.
The school board described the job as an interim position, but Engle said he is serving more as an acting superintendent.
“I’m not actually an interim superintendent. I’m what you would call an acting superintendent because we still have a superintendent with a contract in the district, he’s just on leave,” Engle said.
Thompson was placed on administrative leave as part of the protocol for an investigation into claims he made against members of the school board.
Thompson cited concerns of discriminatory harassment and defamation.
Engle served as the superintendent for the Port Townsend School District from 2012 to his retirement in 2016. Engle has held other leadership positions in education — a classroom teacher, teaching abroad, being an assistant principal and principal in Seattle-based school districts and serving as an educational consultant.
He said he was retiring to live in Port Townsend.
“I was contacted a little over two weeks ago, and at that time the agreement was for me to come and help start the school year, get it up and running,” Engle said.
“The initial commitment is up to a couple of months with that being open-ended depending on circumstances.”
Engle will help the district navigate the reopening of school during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Districts across the state are grappling with what the start of the school year will look like.
Gov. Jay Inslee said on Wednesday that schools in counties with high case counts should consider starting the school year with distance learning rather than in-person instruction.
Jefferson County is a low-risk county with 12.19 cases per 100,000. Low-risk is defined as less than 25 cases per 100,000 residents.
In low-risk counties, Inslee and Chris Reykdal, the state Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), recommend that middle school and high schools use a hybrid model of in-class instruction and distance learning while elementary students attend in-person instruction full time.
“The governor looked at low-risk districts and gave different recommendations than for medium- and high-risk districts, ” Engle said.
“Jefferson County has one of the lowest infection rates in the state, so we’re looking at a different picture than, say, King County.
“I think we will be looking at kind of a different approach than some other neighboring communities will,” Engle continued.
District staff will bring a reopening plan to the school board the middle of this month.
“I’m excited about working with this community to get a good school year going,” Engle said.
Ken Park can be reached at email@example.com.