Both Newcastle school districts seek new superintendents

January 31, 2013

By Lillian ORorke

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Superintendent Steve Rasmussen intends to retire June 30 after leading the Issaquah School District for six years.

He announced the decision Jan. 9 to the Issaquah School Board.

Steve Rasmussen

Steve Rasmussen

“I have been lucky in life and have been able to do what I chose to do, and that is being a teacher,” Rasmussen said after the board accepted his resignation. “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve with you.”

Rasmussen’s retirement caps off a 40-year career in public education in Washington that has included teaching, coaching and leading three school districts.

He started as an agricultural teacher at Enumclaw High School in 1973, where he taught for five years.

“He was one of my most favorite teachers,” said Vicki Wales, who took Rasmussen’s class as a freshman and sophomore at Enumclaw High more than three decades ago. “He just had such respect for all the students. He was one of those people that gave you confidence and made you feel like you could accomplish almost everything.”

Rasmussen made the transition to superintendent in 1989, when he took the helm at the Deer Park School District in Spokane County. From there, he served as superintendent of the Franklin Pierce School District in Pierce County until he came to the Issaquah School District in 2007.

Rasmussen’s contract was extended last year to June 30, 2015, with no changes made to his $212,100 annual salary. But now is the right time to retire, he explained in a Jan. 10 interview.

“It’s time for other people to have this wonderful opportunity,” he said. “And there may be other opportunities for me, I don’t know.”

Rasmussen added that his decision to retire had nothing to do with the recent Liberty High School schedule debate. Last month, the school board ultimately ruled against his recommendation to switch the school from a block schedule to a six-period day.

Per school district policy, the board has complete control over hiring a new superintendent, including the timeline and job specifications.

The last time a new superintendent was hired, the board used a national search firm — Iowa-based Ray and Associates — in August 2006. The process lasted until May 2007.

Sara Niegowski, the school district spokeswoman, said she plans to put together a comprehensive website with information about the hiring process once it has been established by the board.


Renton School District continues search

Both of the school districts that serve Newcastle are seeking new district leaders.

Rasmussen’s announcement comes just months after Renton School District Superintendent Mary Alice Heuschel announced she would leave to serve as Gov. Jay Inslee’s chief of staff.

In a statement announcing her new position, Heuschel said that few opportunities could entice her from her current post, but the call to serve at the state level provides her an enormous opportunity to lead, impact public education and help reform state government.

“Renton, the community and the school district, will always have a very special place in my heart,” she said in the statement. “It has become my family.”

Former Hazelwood Elementary School educator Vera Risdon is interim superintendent.

The district’s search for a new superintendent is already well under way, with search firm Northwest Leadership Associates leading the exploration.

Learn more about the Renton School District’s search

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