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Saturday, February 24, 2024
Feb. 24, 2024

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Ridgefield schools superintendent steps down

McCann deemed ‘not the best match for the current needs of the district’

By , Columbian staff writer

Ridgefield School District Superintendent Nathan McCann announced his resignation at Tuesday evening’s board of directors meeting.

“The Ridgefield School District Board of Directors and Superintendent Dr. Nathan McCann have determined that, through the fault of neither party, Dr. McCann’s significant skill, knowledge, and experience are not the best match for the present needs of the district,” read a district press release shared Wednesday afternoon.

The press release said the board and McCann “agreed to separate” and that the board accepted his resignation effective Aug. 15.

Assistant Superintendent Chris Griffith will assume the role of interim superintendent until a permanent replacement is hired, the district said. The district will select a consulting firm to lead the search for a new superintendent in the coming months.

“My heart is full of gratitude for the nearly decade-long opportunity to work with so many dedicated and talented team members,” McCann said in a statement Wednesday. “I wish to thank all board members, past and present, for their collaboration and commitment to our schools. Ridgefield is truly a special community and I’m excited to see what lies ahead for our schools.”

An eight-year run

McCann began his time in Ridgefield in 2014, making him one of the longest-tenured active superintendents among Clark County school districts. In that time, McCann faced his fair share of challenges: repeated bond failures, union strikes and, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the time, Ridgefield’s student enrollment was just 2,336. By fall 2022, it had grown to 3,972. Much of McCann’s tenure was defined by efforts to address and compete with such intense population growth.

In 2017, Ridgefield passed a $78 million bond to build two new schools and expand Ridgefield High School. As the growth continued, McCann and other leaders planned for a second phase of construction and expansion with the passing of a second bond. Between 2019 and 2022, Ridgefield unsuccessfully ran another bond measure five times. The last attempt in April 2022 failed with 59.15 percent voting to approve — just short of the needed 60 percent supermajority.

McCann and board director Joe Vance voiced frustration with the state law last summer, asking why school construction projects required a different majority than municipal projects. This past year, overcrowding in the district forced schools to convert multi-purpose rooms and gymnasiums into classrooms.

Last summer, negotiations broke down between the district and its teachers union and led to a six-day teacher strike that closed schools between Sept. 9 and Sept. 16. Major differences between the two sides included wage increases and staffing concerns — echoing issues expressed by teachers and paraeducators across Southwest Washington.