Battle Ground Public Schools Superintendent Mark Ross will retire at the end of the school year after serving as the district’s leader since 2017 as part of a 39-year career in education.
Ross made the announcement to the school board at Monday’s virtual meeting. The school board unanimously appointed Denny Waters, the district’s deputy superintendent, to be the district’s next leader effective July 1. Ross’ last day in the district is June 30.
In a phone interview Tuesday, Ross said his retirement has been thought out for months, and he added that now is the right time for the district to transition leadership. The district and Battle Ground Education Association recently agreed on a three-year contract, and in February, the district plans to ask voters to renew a four-year Educational Programs and Operations Levy. The current levy expires at the end of 2021.
Ross described 2020 as a “very challenging” year in education but said the pandemic’s impact on education didn’t play a major factor in his retirement decision.
“It felt like the right time personally and professionally,” Ross said.
Ross, 62, joined the district in 2014 as assistant superintendent of teaching and learning. The board appointed him superintendent in 2017. He started his career teaching language arts and coaching at Camas High School in 1982 and worked in Issaquah, Renton and Marysville school districts before returning to Southwest Washington in 2000. He worked in Evergreen, Vancouver and Washougal school districts before joining Battle Ground Public Schools.
Ross said his time in the district has been the most rewarding and fulfilling of his career. In his seven years in Battle Ground, the district has expanded mental health services for all students and made technology improvements and facility upgrades despite recent bond failures.
“It’s made me feel really good about the things we’ve accomplished,” Ross said.
During Monday’s meeting, board members commended how Ross has led the district through challenging times with grace and courage.
Said board director Monty Anderson: “You will be missed, there is no doubt about that. But we have confidence that the district’s leadership can continue the legacy you’ve started.”
That leadership continues with Waters, an educator for 31 years, including the past 14 in Battle Ground. He came to the district in 2007 as assistant principal of Battle Ground High School before moving to the district office in 2012. He became deputy superintendent in 2017.
The school board met in an executive session Monday to discuss Waters’ qualifications. The board also considered whether to conduct a superintendent search. After the executive session, the board said Waters has demonstrated integrity during his tenure with the district and they’re confident Waters will continue to work to move the district forward.
“To make any hiring decision,” board director Troy McCoy said, “I go to the character of the person, and Denny has great character. When you have the skills to do the job and the character to do it effectively, when you combine those two things, then you have a great candidate. And we have that in Denny.”
The board voted unanimously to appoint Waters, pending contract negotiations.
“I am thrilled beyond words,” Waters said after the 5-0 vote. “I am just so grateful to everybody. … I will not let you down.”