NASELLE — Naselle-Grays River Valley School Superintendent Dr. Rick Pass had asked to have his contract renewed for the maximum allowable period of three years. However, after recent circumstances the NGRV school board made a motion at the regular meeting May 21 to have Pass negotiate with attorney Chris Burton a settlement for the purpose of separating employment with the superintendent and school district.

Pass cited the double-failure of a bond election to remodel and upgrade facilities as a negative for the district. “The captain of the ship gets the credit or the blame,” Pass said of the bond’s failure. “The passage of the Chinese Mandarin language immersion program had mixed reviews among NGRV residents and voters.”

A survey taken of some, but not all of the teachers in the district, also had a negative impact on Pass’s willingness to seek a contract extension in the NGRV district. Two letters concerning the performance of Pass as NGRV superintendent were circulated this year, one in Wahkiakum County and one in Pacific.

“With all of this going on, I felt it would be a good time to make a change. I felt with the possible make-up of the new board I would be fighting an uphill battle if I stayed on as superintendent,” Pass stated.

Pass’s present contract expires June 30, 2014. He was seeking an extension to June 30, 2016. About 100 people attended the school board meeting of May 21, including two Pacific County sheriff deputies.

Board Chairman Torppa had convened an executive session at 7:25 p.m. and at 7:51 p.m. the board returned to regular session. Torppa announced no decisions had been made in executive session. Director Ed Darcher then said, “I move to authorize Mr. Chris Burton, representing the (NGRV School) Board, to undertake negotiations for the purposes of separating employment with the superintendent.”

Discussion followed with comments both for and against the motion. Then Darcher, Torppa, Fletcher and Haataia voted in favor and director Hyland voted against the motion.

“When we consider the best interest for the kids, community and district in our decision-making, then we cannot go wrong,” Torppa said. As chairman, Torppa is the only person to represent the board to the press.

“I feel a lot of good things have happened while I have been superintendent at Naselle. We are now cooking our lunch program meals from scratch. Our technology program is on the cutting edge. Our global education is also on the cutting edge,” Pass said.

In 2009, Naselle was one of only four schools in Washington to receive the U.S. Department of Education designation as a Blue Ribbon School. That award honors schools that are either academically superior, or have made dramatic gains in student achievement and helped close gaps in achievement among minority and disadvantaged students.

The next NGRV school board meeting will be June 12. At press time there was no specific time frame for when the district and Pass would come to a termination agreement.

“I have loved my time at Naselle. I do not want to be a distraction. I do not want to get in the way of what some feel is best for the kids or the community and so I will step aside,” Pass concluded.


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