The Peninsula School Board voted to accept Superintendent Robert Manahan’s resignation May 31, releasing him from the remaining two years of his contract, after the news that Manahan accepted the job as superintendent for the Snoqualmie Valley School District.
“Leaving is bittersweet for me, I will miss this community and district tremendously,” Manahan said.
School board president Marcia Harris said, “We live in times of change, but this change feels sudden––a surprise––but people need to take advantage when the opportunity arises. Snoqualmie Valley is a good fit for Rob with many advantages.”
Manahan was invited to apply for the Snoqualmie position. Harris said that school boards become aware of innovations in other districts through the Washington State School Directors Association’s communication network. When vacancies occur, it is not unusual for districts to seek out innovative leaders with demonstrated successes.
“Rob brought a lot of energy to our district,” Harris said. “We needed different relations in communication with the community and he has done a lot to improve that relationship. Our next step, as a board, is to decide how to proceed.”
The board chose to open an interim position for superintendent for the 2018-19 school year after concluding the district would be better served by conducting a thorough and comprehensive search for a suitable permanent replacement. The district will open the permanent position early 2019.
Harris said PSD is attractive to potential candidates for a number of reasons. “It is a beautiful place to live. Student achievement levels are high. The teaching staff is strong. Community support for schools is generally positive. Although the bond issue did not pass, it did receive 58.9 percent yes vote.”
Manahan said there are similarities between PSD and the Snoqualmie Valley School District. “Both school districts are experiencing considerable growth and changing demographics that impact schools. Both are composed of distinct areas with distinct needs; there are three communities in Snoqualmie with different needs like Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula,” he said. “Some programs introduced in the Peninsula district, like the trades pre-apprenticeship program at Peninsula and Gig Harbor’s teacher academy, are being considered in Snoqualmie Valley.”
Manahan said he was proud of the programs put in place or expanded during his tenure, especially in secondary career path training—biomedical innovation and health careers; skilled trades pre-apprenticeships; teacher academy and a shift to project-based instruction at Henderson Bay High School. He also cited the advances in innovation and integration of technology beginning in second grade, a greater focus on early learning and support for students with behavioral challenges.
“My departure is like a sinker in a bucket of water—you pull out the sinker and there is little noticeable difference,” Manahan said. “Peninsula School District has an amazing team that has developed a climate and culture of engagement and trust. Without a doubt, the work started will be sustained whether I am here or not. My departure will have little impact on the district because the administrative team, teaching staff and support staff are solid,” he said.
“He has a big heart and is such a comfortable, straightforward person,” said Bette McCord, Evergreen Elementary School office manager. “He knows what goes on at the local school level and knows how to support with empathy and compassion. He had an incredible vision for our district and will be missed. ”