WENATCHEE— The Wenatchee School Board voted 4-1 Friday to enter into contract negotiations with Paul Gordon to be the next superintendent.
The board will now make an offer to Gordon, which he can accept or decline, and reveal his decision as early as Tuesday.
The board intended to keep the identity of the selected candidate secret, referring to the finalists by a single, random initial. Board President Sunny Hemphill, though, identified the board’s preferred candidate, “W,” as being from Chicago.
“I heard the comment about Candidate W, ‘Well he just seems like a city slicker,’” Hemphill said during Friday’s meeting. “Other people said to me they were off put that he comes not from the West but from the Chicago area.”
Gordon is superintendent of the Glen Ellyn School District, about 24 miles west of downtown Chicago.
The board narrowed the field down to two candidates, Paul Gordon and “Candidate D.” The board did not provide any identifying features about Candidate D.
Board member Laura Jaecks cast her vote against entering contract negotiations with Gordon. Jaecks selected Candidate D as her preferred choice for superintendent. She also asked the board for more time to consider the two candidates.
“I think (Candidate D) would be an asset to our community and would greatly impact the morale and the negative community perception we’ve experienced in the last year and a half,” Jaecks said.
Jaecks said she preferred Candidate D because he came from an area whose residents shared similar views toward taxation, but still managed to get school bonds passed by connecting with the community.
He also appeared more receptive towards bridging relationships with charter schools, she said.
Board member Sarah Knox originally supported Candidate D but decided to vote for Candidate W to ensure wider board support for their pick.
“What I am hearing is that there is a lot of support for Candidate W,” Knox said. “And I think the most important thing is that no matter who we choose, as we go forward, we have to be fully on board.”
Knox said she would be excited to work with either Gordon or Candidate D. She preferred Candidate D because community members and students appeared to like him, she said.
Hemphill said she chose Gordon as her preferred candidate because he put an emphasis on the welfare of the children and not the parents’ desires.
Board member Karina Vega-Villa said Gordon comes from a district with 80 percent of students on free or reduced lunch and 60 percent of students with mono-lingual parents — similar demographics to Wenatchee. He’d shown an ability to engage with community members in the past by making sure that translators and headsets were available at public meetings, she said.
The board is seeking a replacement for Brian Flones, who has been Wenatchee superintendent for 19 years. Last year, the board approved Flones’ request to be let out of his contract at the end of the current school year, one year before his contract expires.
Before taking on his current job as Glen Ellyn superintendent in 2013, Gordon was the chief academic officer in the the Adams 12 Five Star School District in Colorado, which had more than 42,000 students. In that role, he helped improve struggling schools.
The Glen Ellyn School Board voted 4-3 last month not to renew Gordon’s contract when it expires at the end of the school year. The Daily Herald newspaper in Arlington Heights, Illinois, reported that Gordon had the support of parents and teachers in the Glen Ellyn district. But the school board’s top two officers were critical of how he handled curriculum changes and financial decisions, according to the newspaper.
The Wenatchee World contacted Gordon on Friday afternoon, but he declined to comment.