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Schools’ superintendent retiring

Grohe sets mid-2009 for departure from job she’s held for 10 years; a national hunt for successor planned

Kent School District superintendent Barbara Grohe has announced her upcoming retirement, which will be effective June 2009.

Grohe, who will have been superintendent for 10 years when she leaves the district, sent out an e-mail April 23 alerting district employees of her decision, prior to the Kent School Board meeting last week.

“This early notification will give the board more time to begin the process of selecting a new superintendent with the goal of having that person in place by July 1, 2009,” Grohe wrote. “I know there will be many fine candidates for this position. The district has a wonderful reputation for quality education and innovative programs.”

Grohe wasn’t available for comment.

Bill Boyce, a School Board member, said Grohe’s plans didn’t take district officials “too much by surprise. She’s been with us 10 good years, which is a lot longer than most superintendents usually stay with districts.”

Boyce said board members are thankful for the early notice, as they now have plenty of time to find a replacement. They’ll begin the search immediately.

“This is going to be a national search,” Boyce said. “The first thing we’ll address is finding a search firm, an agency to help us. We’ll be doing that within the next three to six weeks.”

Boyce said the board will provide district personnel and the community ample opportunity to voice their input on what they want in the next leader of the district. Once that data is gathered, they board members will start interviewing candidates.

The board must secure a replacement by July 1, 2009, but Boyce said the board hopes to “have someone selected by the first of the year, so we can have a solid transition period. We’re just very thankful to her for giving us enough time to make sure we do this right.”

Grohe will be missed, but she will leave the district a better place than when she found it, Boyce said. He listed the additions of two technology academies, Kent Phoenix Academy and the implementation of the One-to-One computer program at Mill Creek Middle School as a few of the successes the superintendent oversaw.

“Barbara has done a lot of great things during her time here, so we’re definitely going to miss her,” Boyce said. “But she’s had a very good, successful 10 years.”

Grohe’s salary of $158,861 is the 14th largest among superintendents of public school districts in Washington, according to information from the state superintendent of public instruction.

The tone of Grohe’s e-mail to district personnel last week was upbeat and thankful, emphasizing the need for continued commitment during the remainder of her time as superintendent.

“Through all of the wonderful times, and the difficult times, you have kept the needs for our children foremost in the decision process,” she wrote. “You have my deep gratitude for that dedication. As we complete the next 14 months together, I will continue to call upon you to share your talents and expertise as the district transitions to a new leadership team.”

Grohe has helmed the district since July 1999. Before that, she served as superintendent of Iowa City Community School District in Iowa and as superintendent of Shorewood Schools in Wisconsin. Her other previous educational experience includes positions as assistant superintendent, Right to Read director, reading consultant and elementary-school teacher.

Grohe was named National Superintendent of the Year in 1998, an award annually given by the American Association of School Administrators to a superintendent who has demonstrated all-around outstanding leadership.

Grohe received her doctorate in urban education from the University of Wisconsin, her masters degree in education from Ohio University and her bachelors degree in education from Clarion State College. She has certifications in district administration, supervision, elementary school principalship and teaching. She also has a K-12 Spanish certification from University of Valladolid in Spain.

Covington is among the areas served by the Kent district.

The district has a $31 million budget and 40 schools. The latter include four high schools, seven middle schools and 29 elementary schools.

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