Schools narrow it down to six superintendent candidates

The Vashon school board has selected six candidates with extensive experience in school district administration as semifinalists in its search for a new superintendent for the Island’s 1,500-student district.

The six candidates — five men and one woman, all of whom currently hold posts in Western Washington — will come to the Island next Saturday for a daylong series of interviews.

The board made its choice Thursday night in an open meeting after vetting the pool of 26 contenders for the job. They agreed to the semifinalists unanimously,

said chair Bob Hennessey.

“This is ... a very talented and experienced group of candidates,” Hennessey said. “I’m ecstatic with the pool we had. It wasn’t super easy to narrow it.”

The six semifinalists are:

• Arthur Himmler, superintendent of the 5,400-student Steilacoom Historical School District, a position he’s held since 1984;

• Warren Hopkins, deputy superintendent of the 5,250-student Arlington School District, where he has worked since 1995;

• Howard King, superintendent of the 1,700-student Elma School District since 2006;

• Molly Ringo, executive director for K-12 education at the 18,000-student Everett School District, a position similar to that of assistant superintendent;

• Michael Soltman, currently the head of the 858-student San Juan Island School District, and, before that, assistant superintendent of the Mercer Island School District; and

• Richard Thompson, superintendent of the 2,700-student Lynden School District since 2005.

After interviews on Saturday, where the board’s citizens advisory committee will also be asked to comment on the candidates, the board plans to vote on two to three finalists who will come back to the Island for another round of interviews, meetings with stakeholders and visits at the three schools, Hennessey said. The board expects to vote on the finalists on Sunday in an open session.

Terry Lindquist, Vashon’s interim superintendent, called the group of applicants “outstanding.”

“I’ve done a lot of these searches,” he said. “I’d say this is just a really strong pool.”

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