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Ashland superintendent finalists are announced

ASHLAND — Two candidates vying to become Ashland School District's next superintendent will visit here for a series of final interviews and school tours.

The two finalists were selected from a pool of 19 applicants following a two-week-long process of screenings, interviews, reference checks and a visit by Ashland School Board members Carol Davis and Jim Westrick to their school districts.

Jay Hummel, superintendent of Kuna Joint School District, on the outskirts of Boise, Idaho, and Russell Pickett, superintendent of Tenino School District, in Tenino, Wash., about 10 miles south of Olympia, will arrive in Ashland Thursday.

"We feel that both of them are very strong candidates," Davis said. "Each will bring quality experience and educational leadership to the district."

Hummel, who has been superintendent eight years at Kuna, a district of about 5,000 students, has a master's in education from the College of Idaho.

He earned a bachelor's degree in secondary education, English and health in 1978 from the College of Idaho.

Pickett, who has been superintendent for six years in Tenino, a district of about 1,300 students, has a doctorate in education from Washington State University.

He earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from George Fox University in 1978.

This is the second time in two months the school district has gone through the taxing process of whittling down a field of applicants for the position. In February, three candidates backed out of consideration for the job after visiting Ashland, one during the final phase of negotiations.

Davis said no one who applied for the job twice was considered, though four candidates did.

The district spent $15,000 for the Oregon School Boards Association's help in advertising and promoting the job the first time, but was assisted for no cost this time around.

The budgeted salary for the new superintendent is from $120,000 to $135,000, according to Davis.

The new superintendent will oversee nearly 2,750 students, approximately 300 full-time and part-time teachers, support staff and administrators, and a total budget for 2012-13 of $43.9 million. That person will replace Juli Di Chiro, who is retiring in July after 13 years as head of the district.

Four committees composed of community members, parents and staff will interview the candidates today. The committees are the Shared Vision Committee, Finance/Budget/Human Resources Committee, Communication/Policy Committee and Instructional Leadership Committee.

The board will conduct final interviews that same day and then vote on May 13.

Sam Wheeler is a freelance writer living in Talent. Email him at samuelcwheeler@gmail.com.