School district makes new hires, appoints new board member

There are new faces of leadership at Vashon Island School District (VISD), with the recent appointment of a new school board member, and the hires of a new director of business and finance, and a new assistant principal at Vashon High School (VHS).

There are new faces of leadership at Vashon Island School District (VISD), following the appointment of a new school board member and the hires of a new top business office staffer and an assistant principal at Vashon High School (VHS).

Sabrina Kovacs hired as assistant principal

This week, VHS welcomed a new assistant principal, Sabrina Kovacs.

Kovacs’ hire followed the appointment of the school’s former assistant principal, John Erickson, to the role of interim principal of VHS after the mid-year resignation of Danny Rock.

Rock announced in December that he had accepted a job in the private sector.

Kovacs, who is fluent in Spanish, has worked for Seattle Public Schools for the past 16 years, in positions including School Climate Transformation Grant Coach, District Assessment Coordinator, assistant principal of Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, and classroom teacher.

Lucia Armenta selected for school board

Lucia Armenta, a childhood educator who was born and raised in Mexico and moved to the United States in 2000, has been appointed by the VISD School board as its newest member, filling a seat recently vacated by Kali Aguilera.

Armenta has taught in Illinois, Seattle and Vashon — she currently teaches at Family Link and is the small business owner of Spanish4All, a play-based, Spanish-immersion, outdoors preschool on Vashon. She also taught for four years at Vashon Green School.

“I made the decision to apply to the school board because I believe emotional and academic education are the most powerful tools we can offer to our children and youth to thrive as adults,” Armenta said, in a statement to The Beachcomber. “Being on the school board is the most effective use of my time and energy to help our children have those tools.”

Three other applicants vied for the position, which opened after the recent resignation of Aguilera, who cited family matters which required her to move away from Vashon. She had been appointed to fill the seat of Bob Hennessey after his resignation in 2021.

The field of applicants — Armenta, Juniper Rogneby, Gavin Watson and Craig Klinkam — were interviewed at a special board meeting held on Thursday, Jan. 12. Each made a statement as to what they would bring to the position, and then asked a series of questions by current board members — Toby Holmes, Zabette Macomber, Mariel Thuraisingham and Allison Krutsinger.

During the period of questions, Armenta described how both her education and lived experiences had informed her work with low-income and immigrant families — work that shaped her creation of programs teaching Spanish or English as a second language.

The board then met in executive session and announced its choice of Armenta upon return to the open session. Holmes, the board’s president, said that the board had been impressed with all the candidates, and praised their willingness to serve the community.

He urged all the candidates to consider running for four open school board positions, which will be on the ballot in the general election, in November.

It is rare to have four open seats for the five-member board on the ballot at one time, as school board members are elected in cohorts of two or three, in cycles separated by two years.

However, this will be the case, this year, for several reasons.

Armenta’s seat will be one of those on the ballot, as her current term will only fill out the remaining months of the term of Bob Hennessey, who was elected in 2019.

Thuraisingham, who was appointed to fill a seat left open after the election of 2021, will also be required to run for election to her post if she wishes to continue to serve on the board.

Additionally, Holmes and Macomber — both elected to the board in 2019 — will be required to run for re-election this year if they wish to continue serving on the board.

After the meeting on Jan. 12, both Macomber and Holmes told The Beachcomber that they had not yet decided whether they would run for re-election in November. Holmes also said he did not know if Thuraisingham, who attended the meeting by Zoom, would run for election in 2023.

After the meeting, Superintendent Slade McSheehy said he was also pleased by Armenta’s appointment to the board.

“We are very fortunate to have had four qualified candidates …. and are equally glad that Lucia has accepted the position to join the other four members of our board,” he said.

Kim Mayer hired as business and finance director

Last week, the district also announced its hire of Kim Mayer as its new director of business and finance.

Mayer, who began working with the District at the start of the year, has 20 years of experience working in school districts and will replace Kay Adams, who departed for Mercer Island School District in December of 2022 — just months after Adams’ promotion to the VISD post, following the departure of VISD’s former financial chief, Matt Sullivan. Sullivan left the district, where he had served for eight years, after being hired in August to become the financial chief of the Mercer Island School District.

An islander for 28 years before moving off, Mayer and her husband Dan Mayer, a current VISD employee, raised their three children on the island, and Kim worked for VISD from 2002-2015, according to a press release.

“I always loved Vashon and working here,” said Kim. “It is great to come back and have this full circle experience. There are so many people here I’ve already worked with, I feel like I can truly hit the ground running.”

In her seven years away from Vashon, Kim was the fiscal officer for the Enumclaw School District.

“I am thrilled to have someone with her knowledge, experience, and island background on our district administrative team,” said McSheehy. “She brings a fresh set of eyes and potentially new fiscal strategies to help our district.”

Kim will be closely involved in VISD’s sustainability and solvency plan, the press release said.

In October, a management and operational review of Vashon Island School District (VISD) finances, conducted by a consultant for the Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA), called VISD’s levels of spending on labor “not sustainable.”

The report recommended that VISD implement a range of measures including reducing staff, increasing class sizes in its high school and middle school, and increasing the cost of meals served by the district. These actions and others, according to the report, would restore $900,000 to VISD’s 2023-2024 budget, said Jacob Kuper, the WASA consultant.

Since the time of Kuper’s report, VISD has developed its solvency and sustainability plan, viewable at, which incorporates some of Kuper’s suggested solutions as well as other cost-savings measures and revenue enhancements — many of which are now also being addressed on the legislative level to address the state’s chronic underfunding of education.

The board approved the sustainability and solvency plan at its Dec. 15 meeting; further decisions on how to implement the plan will take place this spring.