Super Search: Pt. 2
The Moses Lake School Board has offered the position of superintendent to Monty Sabin (left), former Kittitas School District chief and the current assistant superintendent for operations in the North Thurston School District. Oroville School District Superintendent Jeffrey Hardesty (right) is pictured standing in the Moses Lake School District’s meeting room Wednesday evening before a 45-minute conversation with parents and district residents. Hardesty was the second finalist vying to become MLSD’s next superintendent.
Photos by Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin herald
MOSES LAKE — The Moses Lake School Board has asked Monty Sabin to be the district’s next superintendent.
At a special board meeting Thursday afternoon, the board voted unanimously to extend Sabin, currently the assistant superintendent for operations in the North Thurston School District in Lacey, an offer.
“Between his mix of experience, his mix of where he’s worked, the size of districts, small and big, and just the way he interacted with staff, the public and the board, we felt he would be the best fit for our district,” said Board President Kevin Fuhr after the meeting.
“He’s the best candidate,” added Board Member Shannon Hintz.
Sabin was one of two finalists for the position of Moses Lake School District superintendent, and he met with students, staff and the public on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Jeffrey Hardesty, a former teacher and principal in Moses Lake and current superintendent of the Oroville School District, met here to make his pitch for the post.
“I started my career as an educator in Moses Lake,” Hardesty said at the beginning of a 45-minute long question and answer session Wednesday.
Hardesty worked in the Moses Lake School District for six years as a teacher, vice-principal and principal — including leading what was Columbia Basin Alternative Secondary School and helping create Endeavor Middle School — before moving on to Tonasket and eventually Oroville as that district’s chief in 2016.
He said he wants to come back to Moses Lake because he and his wife will soon be empty nesters, and he’d found working in the Moses Lake School District at the start of his career very professionally rewarding.
“It’s kind of a feeling of coming back home. I missed the rhythm in the basin, I missed the smells,” he said. “There’s a fondness of this area, and I feel as though there’s just work left undone.”
Hardesty said his most important tasks as a superintendent would have been to help the school board and district staff develop a strategic vision, communicate clearly and regularly with district residents and help promote better decision making.
“As I look at the state of things, right now, in society, we have a diminished capacity for solving complex problems together,” Hardesty said. “And we no longer appear to have civil discourse.”
Hardesty described himself as a “systems thinker” who helps put in place the kinds of structures and processes that allow people to deal with difficult problems and manage complex institutions like a school district, or helping struggling students improve. He said he likes to understand a problem as thoroughly as possible before making any judgments or implementing any solutions.
As superintendent, Hardesty said he would like to talk through a complex problem without turning it into a divisive political issue.
“We should be able to sit in a room and solve a complex problem respectfully. And anytime we don’t, I say we’re better than this,” he said.
Hardesty said a school district the size of MLSD should have a simple and unified message it tells its teachers, staff, students and the community.
“Most superintendents know that bus drivers are key communicators,” he said. “If we aren’t talking to our bus drives about what’s going on, and they can’t go out and communicate, we’re in trouble.”
In fact, Hardesty said continuous communication and engagement are the best ways to deal with misinformation and rumors that can make way their way around a community.
Had he been chosen, Hardesty said he would have MLSD be more active and out and about, such as keeping an ambitious calendar to visit every school at least once a month and putting up booths at community and chamber of commerce events in order to better communicate with the public. Hardesty also said that as an avid hunter and bow fisher — he’s very excited for the upcoming Moses Lake Carp Classic in late May — he is often out and about with people who are frequently shocked that he is a school superintendent.
“There’s just, again, that sort of love of the community and the people and not doing it out of any obligation,” he said. “Just being yourself and being with people and building that trust.”
Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at email@example.com