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New principal at Orchard Hill Elementary part of district leadership changes

Orchard Hill Elementary School will have a new principal as changes take place in the top ranks of the Phoenix-Talent School District.

Shawna Schleif, who was vice principal at Talent Middle School last year, will take over the top Orchard Hill spot vacated by Brent Barry, who becomes the district’s assistant superintendent for academics and student programs.

Schleif has been with the district since 2005, when she started teaching mathematics, technology and shop classes at Phoenix High School. She was vice principal for five years at Phoenix High before going to Talent. She was a secondary math teacher in Stevenson, Wash., from 2002 to 2005. She will earn $97,950.

Barry will provide leadership in strategic planning, curriculum development, student services and technical education and special education services. Barry was vice principal at Phoenix High for six years before moving to Orchard Hill.

Barry’s new position is a combination of old positions, said Superintendent Teresa Sayre. Suzanne Foster, who oversaw student services, has retired. Sayre had been director of instructional services before being named superintendent in 2013, but that post remained vacant, and she performed those duties until Barry’s appointment.

“I took it upon myself to create a new organizational chart. I spent over six months in consultation with the board and the board chair,” said Sayre. “We reworked the administration duties to strengthen our district office and to take advantage of some position cuts to save the district some money and help schools.”

Under the new alignment, the district now has three positions in the superintendent’s office compared to five before Sayre’s appointment. A retirement and a resignation helped make the reorganization possible.

Cally McKenzie, formerly human resources and financial director, is now assistant superintendent of human resources and business services. David Marshall, former business manager, left to become city manager in Sublimity. In the new position, McKenzie will oversee an accountant and a facilities and projects manager added to the staff.

Heather Lowe will become the new vice principal at Talent Middle School. Last year, she was a teacher on special assignment working on the Oregon Department of Education collaboration design grant, which begins its third year this fall. She has been the district’s grant coordinator, elementary migrant education summer school coordinator and taught at Talent Elementary, among a variety of assignments. Her salary is $75,742.

The appointment of Don Rugraff to succeed Janie Hale as principal of Phoenix High School was announced in May. He was previously principal at Brentwood High School in Missouri.

Sayre is in her last year as district superintendent. She retired June 30 but has agreed to a one-year contract to remain in the district’s top post. The search for a new superintendent is expected to begin in November or December, Sayre said.

Tony Boom is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com