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Castle Rock Middle School

A hallway at Castle Rock Intermediate School becomes congested with students at the end of a school day. Student enrollment has grown steadily in Castle Rock over the last two years, with more than 50 new students signing up for school since last summer. 

The Castle Rock School Board started its superintendent search from within, interviewing the district’s high-school principal, Ryan Greene.

But this does not rule out the possibility of launching a broader search, said board chair Andy Ogden at a Tuesday night board meeting.

The board decided to “see what we had in-house before we went outside” to potentially save time, money and resources, Ogden said.

Hiring a new superintendent can take up to three months, Superintendent Jim Mabbott said. The process includes posting the job, hiring a search firm, vetting dozens of candidates and conducting extensive interviews with the top three candidates.

Greene is currently enrolled in the district’s superintendent training program, and it was highly likely he would apply to succeed Mabbott as superintendent, Ogden said.

“If he came back as the candidate in favor, why would we go through an exhaustive process to get to that point?” Ogden said.

“We thought it was a risk versus reward situation. We could risk these three weeks and see what happens,” he said.

As a small school district, it’s more difficult to Castle Rock to compete with districts who can offer “more money for much more prestigious positions,” Ogden said. And this “late in the cycle for finding a candidate” the likelihood that the district could find a quality candidate is low, he said.

“It was our feeling the best candidates are already being highly courted,” Ogden said.

A broader search also introduces the danger of hiring a candidate who’s a bad match for the district, he said. The average stay of a superintendent in Washington is three years, Mabbott said.

“The reason for that is bad matches,” Mabbott said. Superintendents whose vision for a district conflicts with the board or staff can create an “ugly” situation and “stop district progress,” he said.

A four-year employee of Castle Rock, Greene has shown his vision matches the district’s current course, Ogden said.

“Ryan is a strong visionary. He really sees how things might be, and he loves the district and wants the best for the kids,” Ogden said.

“Here, you know you already have those qualities in a person. You can’t guarantee that with anyone else.”

Before moving forward with hiring Greene, though, the board wants to hear from the community, Ogden said. A parent “meet and greet” with Greene is scheduled for next Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the elementary school library, and the board will collect anonymous comment cards from those in attendance.

“Pending that feedback, we will decide the next step,” Ogden said.

That includes the possibility of offering Greene the job, or publicly posting the position to hire from a larger pool of applicants.

The board’s decision to interview Greene before officially posting the job drew some concern from parents Tuesday night. Tracy Morgan, a mother of three in the district, said it sounded like the board had already decided to hire Greene, and was taking public comment “as a courtesy.”

Ogden disputed the claim, saying that “no decision have been made whatsoever.” Should the community oppose Greene’s selection, the board will consider opening the position to more candidates, he said.

“This is just such an important decision for our school district, I don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket and have the basket explode on us,” Morgan said.

Mabbott, who recommended Greene to the board, said he “didn’t see anything exploding” if the principal was offered the position. He added that it is a bigger risk to pay money for a hiring firm that might choose a bad match.

Hiring Mabbott’s replacement is “the biggest decision this group of five people will have to make,” Ogden said.

“There’s no part of this that’s taken lightly,” he said Tuesday after the meeting. “If we blow it, it’s on us.”

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