Glenn Gelbrich

Kelso Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich said he announced his retirement eight months early to give the school board enough time to conduct a thorough search for his replacement. ‘I wanted to do this far enough in advance that the board could take its time and find the right person,’ he said.

Bill Wagner, The Daily News

The search for Kelso’s next schools chief is heating up fast.

The Kelso School Board voted Monday to proceed with a limited search to replace Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich before casting a wider net for potential candidates.

Board President Bob Lucas told The Daily News Wednesday that the board will interview a job candidate next week. He declined to reveal the candidate’s name to protect the individual’s identity in case he/she isn’t hired.

If next week’s candidate is unsuccessful, Lucas said the board will put out a request for qualifications for superintendent search firms.

Gelbrich announced in November that he will retire in June after spending 40 years in public education.

Shortly after Gelbrich made his announcement, the Kelso School Board enlisted Next Up Leadership, a recruiting firm, to search for a replacement.

After meeting with district employees last week, search consultants presented Kelso School Board members Monday with a choice between casting a wide net or first considering a select group of viable candidates.

Search consultants recently met with the district’s cabinet, leadership team, district staff and teachers union to gather suggestions for desired qualifications.

The meetings involved discussing the district’s strengths and identifying areas where it needs to improve. Consultants also asked participants to identify potential superintendent candidates, which were submitted confidentially.

The district’s 18-member cabinet listed fostering trust among all personnel as one of the top priorities for the new superintendent. The group also said the new school chief should make a priority of supporting at-risk students and expanding career- and college-readiness programs.

Thirteen district staff members also listed staff retention and staff morale as priorities.

Representatives of the Kelso Education Association also said staff retention needs to be a priority, as well as increasing professional development opportunities for classified staff.

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