October 12, 2016—Renton School Board members at their regular meeting tonight unanimously named Dr. Damien Pattenaude as the new Renton School District Superintendent-elect.
School Board members have for months been working through the process to select the new superintendent to replace interim superintendent Dr. Art Jarvis. With support and guidance from Dr. Jarvis, the district held numerous listening sessions with staff, families and community members to ensure the final candidate was an accomplished education leader who possesses the values and beliefs important to district students, staff and community, and would continue to move the district forward.
The School Board’s selection process
Selecting a superintendent for a school district is the most important job of any elected school board. Renton School Board members had several choices in permanently filling the superintendent position: They could conduct a nationwide search; appoint a superintendent; or place an interim in the position to provide time for a more thoughtful, calculated search process. Board members were faced with those same choices in October 2015 when they asked current interim superintendent Dr. Art Jarvis to remain on board for an additional year.
Board members recognized early on that they had a unique opportunity to use interim superintendent Dr. Art Jarvis as a facilitator to help guide the search process. Dr. Jarvis has 50 years of experience in school district leadership and as a state education leader, and has helped districts across the state transition into new leadership. Board members worked with Dr. Jarvis and Dr. Monte Bridges, former superintendent of the regional Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD) to assess beliefs and attitudes regarding the search. As part of that work, Dr. Bridges conducted listening sessions with numerous district leaders, teachers and staff to best understand the values, philosophy, and direction those constituencies wanted in a new superintendent.
After the listening sessions were summarized and reported, the Board was confident that the beliefs and values were commonly shared throughout the district. Additionally, having already recognized that they would have a viable internal candidate, they also heard a strong voice from staff urging them to seriously consider Assistant Superintendent Pattenaude’s candidacy. Participants were very confident of his leadership skills and abilities, and stressed that his knowledge of the district and community provided a distinct and unprecedented opportunity to have a superintendent that could continue, capitalize and improve on district and community initiatives that support continued student achievement.
The Board then moved to a process to explore all aspects of Dr. Pattenaude’s qualifications, expressly examining his philosophy, direction and style as a leader. This information now positioned the Board to move to the next step of the decision making process resulted in a motion by Board members to avoid the more typical search process and instead directly appoint Dr. Damien Pattenaude to be the Superintendent-Elect to take office on July 1, 2017.