Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Sept. 21, 2021

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Vancouver Public Schools Superintendent Steve Webb steps down

School board, Webb agree to his immediate retirement Thursday night

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:

Steve Webb stepped down as superintendent of Vancouver Public Schools late Thursday after school board members approved an agreement that he begin his planned retirement from Vancouver Public Schools immediately.

The agreement, crafted by attorneys representing the board and Webb, came after an executive session lasting more than two hours Thursday. When the board reconvened, the vote was unanimous.

After executive session but before the vote, board President Kyle Sproul said the board engaged in negotiations earlier this week with Webb based on a mutual desire to move up his retirement date. His superintendent contract was set to expire June 30.

“The board’s counsel has reached an agreement with Dr. Webb’s counsel in terms of his early retirement,” Sproul said.

Details of the agreement have not been disclosed, nor has an explanation as to why Webb was placed on leave this week. Board directors did not comment following their 4-0 vote Thursday on a resolution approving the agreement between the board and Webb.

Four finalists named for superintendent

The Vancouver school board announced Thursday the names of four school district leaders selected as finalists in its search for a new superintendent. All finalists will be part of a forum-style interview over Zoom at 6 p.m. Tuesday, as part of a webinar for community members to meet and learn more about the candidates.

The finalists are:

Karen Cheser

Superintendent, Fort Thomas (Ky.)
Independent Schools

Cheser has been superintendent of Fort Thomas Independent Schools in northern Kentucky since 2017. Her career in education spans 32 years in Kentucky as a teacher, instructional supervisor, principal, director of curriculum, director of teaching and learning, assistant superintendent and deputy superintendent. Cheser holds a bachelor’s and master’s in education, and a doctorate of education, all from Northern Kentucky University.

Kenneth (Chris) Hurst

Superintendent, Othello School District

Hurst has been superintendent of the Othello School District since 2016. He is a former U.S. Marine who spent most of his career in education in California as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and associate superintendent. Hurst holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science and master’s in educational leadership and administration from California State University, San Marcos, and a doctorate of education from the University of Southern California.

Hector Rico

Director of diversity, equity and inclusion, Pacific Collegiate School, Santa Cruz, Calif.

Rico recently joined the Pacific Collegiate School as its director of diversity, equity and inclusion. He has a 30-year education background at the classroom, local, district and state levels, including a tenure at the California Department of Education and superintendent of the Alisal Unified School District from 2016-19. Rico holds a bachelor’s in Latin American studies from University of California, Santa Barbara, a master’s in education from Azusa Pacific University and a doctorate of education from University of California, Berkeley.

Jeff Snell

Superintendent, Camas School District

Snell is in his 10th year in the Camas School District, and fifth as superintendent. He spent 15 years in Vancouver Public Schools as a teacher, associate principal and principal at McLoughlin Middle School and Fort Vancouver High School. He became deputy superintendent of the Camas School District in 2011. Snell holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics education from Boston University, and master’s of education and a doctorate of education from Washington State University.

--  Meg Wochnick

Candidates Webinar

Tuesday’s webinar can be found at
https://vansd.zoom.us/j/86142411158
.

It also will be recorded and posted on the district’s website.

Sproul later released a statement through the district saying, “The board is grateful for Dr. Webb’s long service to the district on behalf of children and families. We wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Webb, VPS’ superintendent since 2008, was placed on administrative leave by the board Tuesday. In August, he announced his retirement effective July 1, 2022.

According to a superintendent successor search timeline first published by the district, Webb planned to stay on board in 2021-22 as an “executive coach and mentor” to his successor.

On Thursday, the board appointed assistant superintendent Kathy Everidge to serve as interim superintendent. Everidge oversees human resources as a VPS assistant superintendent and is a 38-year employee of the district. In 2016, she moved into that role after serving as chief schools officer and as an assistant superintendent. 

In a statement through VPS, Webb said, “I am immensely grateful to this community, our partners, school board members past and present and all of our incredible employees over the years who have made a difference in the lives of children.

“Together, we have left an indelible legacy, transformed students’ lives, built new partnerships and strengthened our community.”

Also Thursday, the board chose four finalists for the superintendent’s position:

  • Dr. Karen Cheser, superintendent, Fort Thomas Independent Schools, Fort Thomas, Kentucky.
  • Dr. Kenneth (Chris) Hurst, superintendent, Othello (Wash.) School District.
  • Dr. Hector Rico, director of diversity, equity and inclusion, Pacific Collegiate School, Santa Cruz, California.
  • Dr. Jeff Snell, superintendent, Camas (Wash.) School District.

A webinar featuring all four finalists is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16 over Zoom. It is open to the public.

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