Aberdeen School Board picks superintendent finalists

Four candidates will come to town to meet with board, school staff and community over two days

On Thursday, the Aberdeen School Board selected finalists to interview for the job of schools superintendent. They are Jeff Davis of Onalaska, Alicia Henderson of Mountain View, Calif., Kelly Raymond of Tacoma and Mike Villarreal of Othello.

Board members narrowed the field from 17 candidates to four during two meetings this week.

“We had eight to 10 strong candidates vying to be our next superintendent,” Board President Sandra Bielski said in a statement released by the school district on Friday. “It took us two evening meetings and much discussion to narrow the field to four. We’re confident that one of these four will be a great leader for the Aberdeen School District.”

These are details provided about each of the finalists:

Jeff Davis has been superintendent in the Onalaska School District for the past four years. He earlier served as superintendent in the Central Curry School District on the southern Oregon coast.

Alicia Henderson has been superintendent of the Bellevue Unified School District in Santa Rosa, Calif., for the past five years. Bellevue Unified is a district similar in size to Aberdeen. Henderson was recently named Superintendent of the Year for the northern California region.

Kelly Raymond is executive director of schools for the 20,000-student Highline School District. She has held that position for the past seven years. Raymond is a former principal who also served as an administrator in Tacoma and Clover Park.

Mike Villarreal is director of state and federal programs for the Othello School District. He has held central office positions in Othello for 10 years. Prior to that he was a principal in the Warden School District.

Each of the finalists will spend a day in the district meeting with school and community groups. They will end their day with an interview with board members. The meetings and interviews are scheduled March 9-10. Two candidates will be engaged in these activities one day and the other two will do so the next day.

A schedule of activities for the job candidates is being developed and will be posted on the district web site.

Bielski said board members are hoping for broad participation by staff and community members during the interview process because their feedback will play an important role in board’s final decision.

The new superintendent will succeed Dr. Thomas Opstad, who is retiring after seven years with the Aberdeen School District. The board is expected to announce its next superintendent by March 13.