Public meets two Oroville school superintendent hopefuls

Third planned candidate bows out of race, two more to be interviewed

OROVILLE – The Oroville School Board selected three applicants for the Oroville Superintendent position and scheduled interviews for each on three separate days, but with two interviews complete it appears the third candidate will not be able to make it.

The candidates seeking to replace Steve Quick, who will be leaving the district at the end of the school year are: Craig Dwight, Director/Principal of the Yakima Skills Center; Dr. Lynn Johnson, P.E. teacher for the Oroville School District and a former Oroville Elementary Principal and Byron Stutzman, Superintendent from Crook County, Wyoming.

“The third candidate for the superintendent of schools position, Byron Stutzman, has informed me that he is unable to meet the scheduled interview date on April 20, 2016. It has, therefore, been cancelled,” said Lloyd Olson, the board’s search consultant.

Dwight and Johnson have each already spent a day in the district meeting with staff and students, as well as participating in a public meeting at the high school library where community members were offered the chance to ask questions of the would-be superintendents.

Dwight, had his day in the district on Tuesday, April 12. He said he had been in education for 36 years, with a Masters in School Administration and his Superintendent certification from Washington State University. He has been a teacher and coached for 20 years – football, wrestling and girl’s golf. Previous to being principal at the Skill Center in Yakima, he ran an alternative high school. He is married to a teacher and has two grown children.

“The Skill Center is an area technical high school where students from the various schools in the area go to for half a day… we had about 900 kids bussed in from all over the area,” he said.

Dwight said the Skill Center offered classes, taught by people in many fields, including nursing, computer tech, Microsoft Certification, dental assisting, law enforcement and fire fighting.

One of the things Dwight mentioned that he was most proud of was the dental clinic they had at the Skills Center.

When asked why he wanted to leave Yakima and come to Oroville, he said, “I’ve done all I can do in Yakima, at this point my teacher run the building.”

About his experience with alternative high schools, something the Oroville board has considered bringing back to the district, he said, “I’ve dealt with a lot of kids and found there are more powers out there driving kids out of school than powers driving them to school. When the kids had a little discipline and a little compassion they did well.”

In his free time the candidate said he liked to fish, golf and kayak. He also belongs to the Rotary. He and his wife have a cabin in the San Juan Islands, that he said would be nice in 20 years.

Coming to small town won’t be a culture shock for Dwight and his wife as they live in Naches and spent 12 seasons in Alaska in towns 10 times smaller than Oroville.

“And, I’ve been around agriculture most of my life,” he said.

He was asked if he saw anything from his experience at the Skills Center that could be transferrable to the district.

At Yakima he said he dealt with 10 superintendents that made up the governing body, much like a company and that he was used to working with budgets.

“If someone come to me and says we need to buy something, I always say ‘no’ first. Then I say give me a little more information on what it is going to do for the kids,” he said.

He feels that the life of the job is 10 years, not 30 years.

“If you’re not going to keep up you lose enrollment and then you lose your job,” he said.

Dwight was asked about the number of Oroville kids attending Tonasket and how to entice them back into the district.

“We have to figure out what Oroville can hang its hat on, what do we do best. I asked the staff what they are willing to do to get fired up and what they are willing to do to help,” he said.

At one of the schools where Dwight worked the kids built a fish hatchery.

“Every class was involved and it was related to science, math etc.,” he said.

School Director Todd Hill said he was particularly interested in Dwight’s program in Yakima.

“The best example financial wise is the dental clinic. It worked because it was based on learning from a person who did it as a full time job,” he said.

He added that there is advanced funding for kids who participate in these kinds of vocational programs.

“Like construction projects, they can do them and the district pays for the materials. It sure helps on the maintenance budget in a district, even if we paid them $9.50 an hour,” said Dwight. “But they still have to read and write, they still have to do math.”

Dwight said any student that uses any kind of heavy equipment has to be at least 18, but things like being a computer tech can be done at 15.

Dr. Johnson, a teacher at Oroville and the former elementary school principal, met with staff and the public on Wednesday, April 13. Johnson grew up in Oroville and returned 11 years ago to be closer to her parents and because of her father’s health.

Johnson started at Nooksack School District as a parapro for PE grades K through 12. She then worked at Blaine Elementary as a teacher for six years and was principal at Clear Lake Elementary for 11 years. She interned at Sedro Woolley as a Superintendent and also took on the directorship of the Migrant/Bilingual program for three elementary schools in town and four outside of town.

“The year I started work with the Migrant/Bilingual program I had to hire 12-14 people to work in the program and ran two separate offices,” she said, adding that there were 267 students in the bilingual program and 167 in the migrant program.

Altogether between the two jobs she said she was supervising 40 employees.

“The biggest challenge we are dealing with is discipline, but we are starting to get a handle on it through the discipline committee. If one student is a disruption in the classroom it isn’t good for learning,” she said.

She said that and training for staff will help to improve the learning atmosphere at the district.

“We all have to work together, not just me doing it, but the staff doing it, you doing it, all of us working together,” she said.

She said Oroville had a lot of great programs in the district naming AVID, Leader in Me, Online College and Running Start as just a few.

About getting students back into the district, she said, “I see us really taking a look at what we offer in the high school now as regular programs.”

She described adding a hybrid of an alternative school and skill center that would work on vocational/tech programs, credit retrieval and contract with approved virtual learning.

“I’d like to consider reconfiguring the school around a trimester system, rather than semesters. It gives an opportunity for the students to have more electives,” she said.

About getting the community involved, she said having meetings that involve food has always worked for her in her previous jobs.

In view of this development, the School Board will proceed with its scheduled meeting on April 20, 2016 at 3:45 p.m. It will be an executive session to discuss candidate qualifications and next steps.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He has a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.