The Peninsula School Board appointed Art Jarvis as interim superintendent of the Peninsula School District by unanimous agreement July 26. “He hit the ground running,” said school board President Marcia Harris. “I spoke to him the morning after our board meeting and he was in the office working the next day.”
Jarvis, who has been in the field of education for five decades, is now in his 31st year as a school superintendent.
The position became vacant when Rob Manahan, who had served for two years, resigned in May to become the superintendent of the Snoqualmie Valley School District. Karen Andersen, PSD chief financial officer, served as superintendent from July 1 when Manahan left until the interim position was filled.
“It was not an ideal time to pick up a new superintendent,” Harris said, regarding Manahan’s departure. The board decided to hire an interim for a year. “Typically for an interim position, you look for a person who is very experienced and we wanted someone who was not interested in the permanent position,” she said. “It was the right decision.”
Harris said that she knew several recent retirees and contacted them directly for input. The board heard from a number of qualified candidates, some of whom will be considered for the permanent position.
“Art Jarvis has a stellar reputation,” Harris said. Jarvis has served as interim superintendent for other districts including Shelton and, most recently, Renton. The Renton position was extended to two years so that he could mentor the incoming superintendent.
Jarvis earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in education, Master of Arts in special education and a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Washington. He has served as superintendent in the Tacoma, Enumclaw and South Whidbey school districts—all districts serving the range from just a few thousand to 30,000 students. He was twice named Washington State Superintendent of the Year.
Jarvis described a few of the near-term challenges he anticipates. First, just getting ready for the start of the school year, which he noted can be a challenge in any district. But the critical shortage of space is a particular problem for PSD and he is working with staff to get portables in place and look at other ways to ease the overcrowding.
He said collective bargaining negotiations will present a challenge for all school districts this year, as a result of the McCleary Decision, because the system has changed. Jarvis described the situation as “unusual,” but said, “Peninsula has a wonderful relationship with teachers and I will rely on that. I want to get a good agreement with staff in which they feel respected and supported and which will not place the district in a financial bind.”
He plans to support initiatives already underway, including technology with increased access to electronic devices at the secondary level and a change in the approach to discipline. He described the ongoing work on the best way to approach discipline, using a model of restorative justice that aims to keep students in school and not punish them by sending them away from school.
“I don’t think I’ll have any trouble keeping busy,” Jarvis said. “I’ll be the new kid on the block in some areas. I’ll be doing a lot of listening,” he said. “The staff is delightful. They are working hard on all the issues and are positive and supportive people. I am thrilled to be here.”
Living in Tacoma near Titlow Beach, Jarvis looks forward to a much shorter commute without so much time on Interstate 5. He said, “It will add years to my life.”