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Outlook begins anew in search for new principal

OUTLOOK - It's back to the drawing board for the Sunnyside School District, which on April 20 re-posted an opening for a new principal at Outlook Elementary School.

The stage had been set for a transition from retiring principal Cathy Mears to K.C. Mitchell, an assistant principal at the school since 2002, selected to replace Mears when she retires at the end of this school year.

The plan came undone with little more than a month left on the school calendar, as Mitchell decided to leave the Sunnyside School District to take a principal position with an elementary school in Yakima this coming fall.

Though Outlook and the Sunnyside School District are having to shuffle their plans, there is still a good pool of candidates out there to fill the principal position, said Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole.

"This is a great time of year," enthused Cole. "May is when principal candidates are looking for positions. I wouldn't tell you that a month from now. June would have been too late."

Debbie Holwegner, the school district's Human Resources Director, said 15 applications have already been received for the principal position.

Applicants to date are from areas such as Wenatchee, Auburn, Marysville and from the state of Oregon.

With the end of the 2005-06 school year fast approaching, the district will put this hiring on something of a fast track.

Applications and resumes will be accepted until May 19, and Holwegner said interviewing will take place May 22-26.

"We hope to have a candidate selected in time for the school board's regular meeting (May 25)," she said.

If a candidate is not selected by the May school board meeting, the board could approve the hiring during the June meeting.

The new principal hired will start work at Outlook on July 1, when Mears' contract expires.

In the meantime, Holwegner said Mears and Pioneer Elementary teacher Maria Hernandez are working on the transition underway at the school. Hernandez was hired to replace Mitchell as assistant principal, who leaves at the conclusion of this school year.

"A group at Outlook has met and, at the very minimum, they would prefer someone with administrative experience who can step right into a leadership role," Holwegner said of the school's eventual new principal.

"We have building committees that are working on assisting with the interview process," said Mears. "We have begun the plans for next year. We're working with her (Hernandez) as much as we can to bring her up to speed," Mears added. "She is a teacher at Pioneer, but she's here as much as possible."

Mears said parents are also involved in the transition process. "The transition is going very smoothly and we'll continue right along," she said.

"We're disappointed Mr. Mitchell has decided to accept another job," Cole said of the renewed principal search. "We're sorry to see him go, but we're going to find a good principal."

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