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News / Clark County News

Washougal School District interim superintendent ‘optimistic and hopeful’ about future

Hansen decided to stay to tackle a challenging year

By Doug Flanagan, Camas-Washougal Post-Record
Published: May 11, 2024, 6:01am

WASHOUGAL — Aaron Hansen will step up from his role as assistant superintendent of the Washougal School District to serve as interim superintendent for the 2024-25 school year.

When Hansen first heard that his boss, Superintendent Mary Templeton, was leaving, he was hit by a flurry of emotions. He was excited for Templeton, who he knew wanted to move to the Seattle area to be closer to her children. But he found himself worrying about the immediate future of the district, which was facing a challenging school year.

Templeton accepted a position with the Lake Stevens School District last month. And Hansen, the district’s assistant superintendent of human resources and student services since 2019, had accepted a director position at the Camas School District in January, one month before Washougal announced it would have to cut $3 million from its 2024-25 budget.

When news broke about Templeton’s new job, Hansen knew he wanted to try to stay with the Washougal district.

Camas Superintendent John Anzalone called Hansen before Hansen had a chance to call him, turning a potentially awkward conversation into a productive, supportive one.

“I wanted to make sure that he knew that I value his commitment to Washougal very much,” Anzalone said. “I think that him staying in Washougal, although disappointing to us, is only going to grow the relationship and the partnership between Camas and Washougal even more.”

That conversation — and ensuing talks with Anzalone and other Camas staff members during the following two weeks — helped to set Hansen’s mind at ease.

“I know where we’re going, and I see that we are making an impact,” he said. “These are challenging times, but I’m very optimistic and hopeful about our future. I appreciate the direction we’re headed in and what we’ve been working on. We’re just going to keep working on those things, and I think we’re seeing results.”

‘This is a natural step’

For the past five years, Hansen has led Washougal’s human resources efforts, administering collective bargaining agreements, coordinating labor negotiations and developing staffing strategies.

Washougal School Board President Angela Hancock said during the board’s April 30 meeting that Hansen has a comprehensive understanding of the district’s requirements, educational policies and budgets.

“From teacher to principal to coach and all the things that you’ve done in human resources, this is a natural step, and I really believe that you’re ready for it,” Hancock told Hansen.

A longtime Camas resident and the father of two Camas High School graduates, Hansen served as principal of Washougal High School from 2011 to 2019 before being named to his current role.