WENATCHEE — Paul Gordon has accepted the offer to serve as Wenatchee’s next superintendent, according to Wenatchee School Board President Sunny Hemphill.
Currently superintendent of the Glen Ellyn School District 41 in Illinois, Gordon was one of three finalists for the post who visited Wenatchee last week.
The board voted 4-1 Friday to enter contract negotiations.
Hemphill announced at Tuesday’s board meeting that an offer had been accepted by Gordon, which will be finalized by the board at the March 12 meeting. Gordon and his wife are expected to attend that meeting.
The salary and benefits package details have not yet been announced. He is expected to start the job in July, taking over for Brian Flones who is stepping down at the end of this year after serving 19 years in the job.
Hemphill’s announcement followed public comment critical that the board did not choose Shawn Woodward, the favorite based on feedback by four stakeholder committees. Woodward is the superintendent from the Pend Oreille School District in northern Idaho who visited Wednesday. Gordon visited Thursday.
Those speaking at the meeting included two parents and four members of the Wenatchee Education Association interview committee who said feedback from all of the groups were ignored, further damaging trust in the board and the search process.
“I understand it’s not up to a vote of the general populace,” said parent Emi England. “But what good is a stakeholder group if the feedback carried little weight?”
The committee members were hand-chosen by the board, she said, called in to be a sounding board.
“The fact that all four stakeholders groups selected a single candidate said something,” she said.
Suzanne Gladsjo, speaking for fellow WenEA interview committee members, agreed.
“The impression is we were serving as props,” she said. “It felt like a waste of our time and our expertise. Mistrust in the process was exacerbated when you didn’t select the candidate chosen by all. In future, we would encourage the board to use a process that leaves participants feeling valued and builds trust in the outcome rather than what we just went through.”
Hemphill supported the process and the decision.
“We did have a good process,” she said. “We heard from a lot of people and there were differences of opinion in the feedback. I don’t think it was possible to make a bad decision when you looked at the three individuals.”
The board spent time with the candidates, including personal interviews and background reports, she said.
“Dr. Gordon’s focus is on increasing rigor, achieving a high level of academic excellence in the district,” she said. “He talked about his desire to meet people as soon as he gets to town, to work on his relationships with people. We are looking forward to bringing him here. We are excited about the possibilities.”