Superintendent candidate interviews begin today

Washougal School District reveals finalists' names

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The Washougal School District has announced the names of the four candidates who will be interviewed this week for the superintendent of schools job.

According to a news release posted to the district’s website Monday night, the candidates are currently working in administrative positions at school districts of varying sizes in Washington. They include Martin Brewer, superintendent of the Pioneer School District in Shelton; Chris Fritsch, assistant superintendent of the Longview School District; Mike Stromme, associate superintendent of teaching and learning for Vancouver Public Schools; and Ann Varkados, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning for the Bethel School District in Spanaway.

A community open house will be held today, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., in the Washougal High School commons, 1201 39th St. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions of all candidates.

On Wednesday, the finalists will have formal interviews with the board of directors.

“We were very pleased with the number of qualified candidates applying for the position,” said Board President Ron Dinius. “We had a difficult time narrowing the field down to four candidates. We are looking forward to meeting the candidates and introducing them to the Washougal community.”

The finalists all possess extensive backgrounds in education, and currently work in school districts that range in size from 700 students to 23,000 students.

Since 2011, Brewer has been the superintendent of the Pioneer School District, which serves nearly 700 students in kindergarten through eighth grade in two buildings.

He previously worked in the Richland School District as an elementary school principal and director of gifted programs, and as an elementary and middle school principal in the Grandview, Prosser and Sunnyside school districts in Washington.

Brewer earned a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Washington University and a master’s degree from Heritage College.

Since 2011, Fritsch has served as assistant superintendent in the Longview School District, which serves approximately 6,300 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. He has worked for the Longview School District for much of his professional career, previously as executive director of leadership and learning, principal and assistant principal.

Fritsch earned a bachelor’s degree from Pacific Lutheran University and a master’s degree from Portland State University.

Stromme has worked for Vancouver Public Schools in various positions, including associate superintendent and chief information officer, chief of secondary education, high school principal, associate principal, athletic director and teacher. VPS currently has approximately 23,000 students attending 21 elementary schools, six middle schools and five high schools.

Stromme previously served as interim superintendent for the Green Mountain School District and associate superintendent of instructional services and technology at Educational Service District 112 in Vancouver.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University, a master’s degree from the University of Portland, and a doctorate degree from Washington State University.

For the past decade Varkados has been the assistant superintendent of teaching and learning for the Bethel School District, where she has worked since 1998 in positions including executive director of curriculum and instruction and principal. BSD serves 18,000 students who attend 16 elementary schools, six middle schools, three high schools, an alternative high school and an elementary online academy.

Previously, Varkados was a principal in the Kalama School District. She has experience as a learning specialist and teacher, working in the Camas and Vancouver school districts.

Varkados earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Portland. She holds an doctor of education degree from Washington State University.

The candidates will visit the Washougal School District today to meet staff, students and citizens and tour schools.

The district received 21 applications for the superintendent position. They were screened by BWP and Associates, the firm that the district hired to conduct the search, and the School Board.

The person selected to fill the role of superintendent will start his or her new position in July.

Marian Young, director of human resources, said it’s too early in the process say exactly how much the new superintendent will earn per year.

“The Board is staying informed about the salaries in similar sized and positioned districts, to be sure that the new superintendent’s salary will be commensurate,” she said.

Dawn Tarzian, the current superintendent, earns an annual salary of $130,432.

Tarzian will retire in June, after leading the Washougal School District for the past four years. She began her career in education in 1978 as an elementary school teacher in Eagle Point School District in Southern Oregon.