School board keeps Lindquist

Vashon Island School District’s board of directors last week unanimously agreed to extend acting superintendent Terry Lindquist’s contract another year, keeping the popular administrator at the school district’s helm through June 30, 2009.

The vote occurred near the end of the regular board meeting last Thursday, and, according to several people present, the crowd of about 30 rose to applaud the decision.

“The district really needs stability at this time and needs someone with leadership skills running things,” board chair Bob Hennessey said Monday. “Terry is everything we could ever hope for in this situation. It was not difficult to get him to agree.

“This is about service,” Hennessey added. “He sees a small district that he sees is in trouble, and he knows he can help, and he is committed to doing it. He turned in $40,000 of his own salary to help the district. He’s not doing it for the money.”

Other board members agreed.

“I truly believe that Terry Lindquist is the best thing happening in our district now, the best person we could have gotten to do the difficult reforms that are needed in the way that the district does our business,” said board member John Osborne.

“Terry is a class act,” Osborne added. “He knows the superintendent-board relationship better than the board knew itself. His experience in breadth and depth we really need and have benefitted from.”

And new member Kathy Jones said, “I feel blessed that he is willing to support us for another year. I think he has made a positive difference in the district, and that his experience and knowledge helps all of us as a board and a community. We are all pretty consistent about it. He’s a good guy and just wants to help. Terry is internally motivated by his ability to help others.”

Lindquist, 71, said he was happy to remain with the district.

“I’ve enjoyed working here from the first day,” he said. “We have a great community and a great staff.”

Lindquist said he was interested in continuing because the district still has important issues that need to be addressed. Those include getting the operating fund balance to a safe level, creating a complete alignment of curriculum through all the grades, clarifying job descriptions, reinforcing staff development opportunities, dealing with declining enrollment, passing a capital facilities bond issue and negotiating contracts with three unions and the administrators.

With all of those matters in front of the district, said Lindquist, it did not seem an advantage to change superintendents at this point. But it would be an advantage in a year if the district has achieved significant stability in most of these areas, something Lindquist clearly believes is possible.

It would then be very likely that the district could recruit an excellent new superintendent who would be able “to take the district to the next level,” Lindquist said.

He agreed that there are some superintendent candidates who like to repair ailing districts, but most would prefer to come into a viable situation and improve it.

Lindquist came to the district in April 2007 when then board-chair Susan Lofland approached him about helping the district out of the crisis that included then-superintendent Mimi Walker’s leave of absence along with a severe budget problem.

He was hired to work as a consultant a couple of days a week until June.

Then, said Lindquist, “The problems turned out to be deeper and more complex,” so he agreed to stay on at full time through June 2008. With the resignation of the facilities director and the business manager, “I felt a certain responsibility” to continue, he said.

Lindquist retired six years ago from his position as superintendent of the Puget Sound Educational Service District where he had worked for 18 years.

He had been spending his time doing volunteer work with several Seattle agencies.

Lindquist had previously worked as superintendent, assistant superintendent and acting superintendent in two Oregon school districts.