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Lynden's Rick Thompson invited to apply for San Juan Island superintendent position

Rick Thompson ... Lynden School District superintendent is a candidate for the San Juan Island School District superintendent job. - Lynden Tribune
Rick Thompson ... Lynden School District superintendent is a candidate for the San Juan Island School District superintendent job.
— image credit: Lynden Tribune

In a special board meeting Jan. 15, the San Juan Island School Board voted to invite Lynden Schools Superintendent Rick Thompson to apply for the position of superintendent.

Thompson has served as superintendent at Lynden for the past two years and prior to that was curriculum director there. He has indicated to the Lynden district that he will not be returning as superintendent next year.

Upon receipt of Thompson’s application, further information about his background and qualifications will be immediately made available, board chairman David McCauley said in a press release.

“Rick Thompson shone brightly on our radar screen during our 2009 selection process yet was convinced by the Lynden district to stay on as their superintendent for another year," McCauley said.

"He is well-known and has been highly recommended by former district administrators, regional ESD staff, and our recruiting firm Northwest Leadership Associates. While it is somewhat unusual to bring in a single candidate prior to initiating a general search, we see this as a continuation of the recruiting effort we began last year and feel we can leverage the continuity with last year’s process to evaluate Rick in light of the pool of candidates likely to be available to us this year.”

Should the district not hire Thompson, it will immediately open the position and advertise for applications to be submitted in February for a final decision in early April. In order to minimize the delay to such a process, every effort will be made to complete this evaluation in the most expedient manner while providing full disclosure of information and offering complete participation of district staff and the community.

Thompson said today he expects to visit San Juan Island next week for "discussions."

Thompson described his superintendency in Lynden as similar to San Juan's interim superintendent, Walt Wegener. Thompson was Lyunden's director of curriculum and student learning and was elevated to interim superintendent in fall 2008.

"The board is doing a full search and I chose not to become part of that pool," Thompson said. "I decided that for my career, for some of my professional goals, it was not a good fit for me here."

The Lynden School District has three elementary schools, a middle school, a high school and a parent-partnership program that Thompson said is similar to San Juan's Griffin Bay School.

Wegener was hired on an interim basis last year to succeed Michael Soltman, who left to become superintendent on Vashon Island. At the time, Wegener was student services coordinator in Toppenish.

Since joining San Juan, Wegener has managed the district during the sixth-grade's move from middle school to elementary school, the transfer of management of the Experience Food Project, and voter approval of a tax levy that funds school sports through Island Rec, relieving the cash-strapped school district.

As part of his public outreach, Wegener authors a regular column, contributed to local media, called "Superintendent's Corner."

"He's done a lot of great things, but we didn't feel so strong that we didn't want to look at other candidates out there," McCauley said in an interview. "We want to consider him and we hope he will apply. I think Walt's really been able to do as advertised."

Wegener said he will apply for the job. But in the meantime, he's looking elsewhere. "I have to look too," he said. "As the district looks in a larger pool, I also am looking."

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