Next up for Ocean Beach School District: Hiring a new superintendentIs it any wonder that staff and supporters of Ocean Beach School District are celebrating today?

The renewal of the maintenance and operations levy passed last week by a whopping 72 percent.

It will enable the district to continue its current programs without some of the feared cutbacks.

A letter on Page A5 today from school supporters to the community expresses their thanks to residents for this vote of confidence in our schools. We'd like to second the motion.

First time out it was clear that the school levy backers failed to properly grasp the need to "sell" the measure to the community. There were more "yes" votes than "no" votes, but not enough to validate under Washington's "super-majority" regulations.

The efforts to promote the need to fund our schools were ramped up in this second campaign. Its theme, that this was a renewal of an existing levy and not a "new tax," was a proper strategy. And its outcome was superb. Any school district in the state would be happy with a 72 percent vote of confidence.

While the campaign is over, last week's victory, however, should be seen as a beginning and not an end. Two things now need to happen. The school administration needs to continue to show doubters that it is spending this money wisely. And secondly, the Peninsula needs to join with districts around the state to pressure the Washington Legislature to properly fund our public schools. It's simply obscene to hear politicians saying that children are "our future and our greatest resource" and then watch them fail to give them the tools to succeed.

The next challenge for the Ocean Beach School District is to select a superintendent to replace Tom Lockyer. That process needs to be both thorough and open. Once finalists are identified, the hiring committee needs to act like all responsible employers and properly check references. That involves checking with people in the applicants' communities who are not listed as references. How has the applicant handled problems? How does he or she react to the stress of the job? How often is he or she in the school buildings finding out what is going on? In short, what is the applicant's track record in good and bad times?

Our community needs positive leadership for the school district. The set of qualities needed to fill this job opening is quite clear. We need someone who is open, accountable, and approachable. We need a "people-person" who can crunch the numbers while thinking creatively.

Hiring the right person to take the helm is without exception the most important decision the school board makes.

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