Ridgefield school board pares superintendent field to three

By Justin Runquist, Columbian Small Cities Reporter



The Ridgefield school board has narrowed its field of superintendent candidates to three finalists, including one from Vancouver.

Superintendent Art Edgerly plans to retire in June after more than three decades in public education. He’s spent the past seven years at the helm of Ridgefield’s four schools. Thirty people applied for the job of leading a district of about 2,200 students. The finalists are:

• Craig Hoppes, the superintendent of the Astoria School District in Oregon. Hoppes oversees a slightly smaller district, with nearly 1,900 students. Before his days as the top administrator, he taught in three other districts.

• Nathan McCann, the superintendent of Altar Valley School District in Tucson, Ariz. The district is about a third the size of Ridgefield. McCann has also worked as a principal at junior and senior high schools in Arizona.

• Mike Stromme, the associate superintendent of teaching and learning for Vancouver Public Schools, which has about 22,500 students. Stromme is also a finalist for the superintendent position in Battle Ground. In the past, he’s worked as the interim superintendent for the Green Mountain School District and as an associate superintendent for Educational Services District 112. In Vancouver Public Schools, he’s also been the chief of secondary schools and a high school principal.

The Ridgefield school board hired McPherson & Jacobson, a Nebraska-based firm, to recruit and screen candidates. Battle Ground Schools also hired the firm for its own simultaneous superintendent search.

Joe Vance, who sits on Ridgefield’s school board, said he and the other board members are looking for a superintendent who can effectively manage the district’s growth while helping students produce high test scores.

“What we’re looking for is somebody who can take us to the next level,” Vance said. “In the next 15, 20 years, we see a district that could be growing significantly.”

The board members will meet again March 20 for an executive session to review the candidates. A decision on the hire could come as soon as that night, he said.

Each finalist will spend one day between March 18-20 touring the district and meeting staff, students and other community members in public question-and-answer sessions. Vance said he’s hoping for a big turnout at each session at the Ridgefield High School library, 2630 S. Hillhurst Road in Ridgefield. Here is the schedule for each community forum:

• Mike Stromme: 6-7 p.m. Tuesday.

• Craig Hoppes: 6-7 p.m. Wednesday.

• Nathan McCann: 6-7 p.m. March 20.