The Phoenix-Talent School Board decided to skip a lengthy and expensive superintendent search as the district already had “the man for the job” on staff. 

Last week, Brent Barry was named the new superintendent of the Phoenix-Talent School District.

“It would have cost $25,000 to $30,000 to conduct an extensive superintendent search, and since we had the guy we wanted on staff already, it didn’t make sense to spend the time or money,” said Board Chairman Craig Prewitt, who formally offered the position to Barry last Monday.

Barry, the district's assistant superintendent for academics and student programs, expressed interest in the position last fall after Superintendent Teresa Sayre announced that she would be retiring, Prewitt said.

The board was impressed with his communication style, leadership skills and his thorough understanding of the district’s culture, Prewitt said.

Board member Rick Nagel described Barry as “an outstanding guy with a terrific personality,” who is knowledgeable and respected.

Barry taught health and math in Prineville, Oregon City and Medford before he was hired by Jani Hale as vice principal and athletic director of Phoenix High School. Since then, he’s also served as principal of Orchard Hill Elementary and, for the last year, as one of two district assistant superintendents.

Barry, 46, was born and raised in the Rogue Valley and graduated from South Medford High School in 1989. He played baseball for San Diego State University before transferring to Linfield College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in health education. He has since received a Master’s in Teaching degree from Southern Oregon University and his administrative license from Portland State University.

He has been married for the last 20 years to Sara Barry, who teaches at North Medford High School where their two daughters attend.

Barry said his time as assistant superintendent has given him a global view of the district and its programs and helped to prepare him for the new position.

“I love the school district, I love the people I work with, and I feel we have a good positive momentum going,” he said. “Teresa (Sayre) has been amazing with her leadership and … has been able to accomplish a lot, and I want to continue her vision.”

Currently, the district’s enrollment is about 2,600 students, and its annual budget is about $25 million.

Over the past several years, the district’s enrollment has declined while the number for children and families in need has continued to increase, Barry said.

As superintendent, Barry said he’d like to break down the financial barriers for seniors hoping to pursue a post-secondary education by connecting them to more resources and encouraging the community to support them.

He’d also like to offer more professional development around responding to children who’ve undergone adverse childhood experiences and provide more opportunities for students to get connected through electives and extracurricular activities.

“We can drill content, drill content, drill content, but if that trust and relationship piece are not there, then it’s like filling a plate with holes in it,” he said.

Barry’s official contract and salary have not been finalized, Prewitt said.

After 31 years as an educator, Sayre said she is looking forward traveling, spending time with her husband, rediscovering some personal interest and serving in various other capacities within the community.

“I can’t say enough good things about (Barry),” Sayre said.

“It gives me so much peace," she said. "It's like leaving your children with someone you trust."

Reach education reporter Teresa Thomas at 541-776-4497 or Follow her at