Mount Baker Superintendent Transition Update

Dear Mount Baker community,

I am writing this update on behalf of the school board. As you may remember, the board had determined that we would decide about the next steps in the transition process at our December 14th meeting. I want to thank all of the staff members that provided us input on the transition. Your input, along with community input, has been very valuable to give us a well-rounded view of our leadership needs. With our district facing several challenges, the board recognizes that it is important that our leadership transition be effective and efficient. To that end, the board has taken the following actions:

Interim Superintendent. We will seek to appoint an external interim superintendent, with the goal of appointing an interim in January 2024. The board feels that hiring a very experienced outside interim for a short time is the best way to set our district up for success. Given the urgency of meeting our leadership needs, we felt that we needed to explore our options for a possible external interim superintendent in case the board chose that option. I reached out to our previous superintendent search consultant, Mark Venn of Northwest Leadership Associates. Mark had previously served as Mount Baker Assistant Superintendent and understands both the needs of our district and knows the potential candidates. In consulting with Mark, we chose to narrow our search to retired superintendents, both for the depth of experience and the ability to step in mid-year. Mark offered to contact potential candidates free of charge. Mark contacted eight potential candidates and recommended that the board consider Phil Brockman, retired Sedro Woolley Superintendent, for the interim position. Phil served as superintendent in Sedro Woolley for eight years. Prior to that, Phil worked for thirty years in Seattle School District as a teacher, principal, and district-wide administrator.

Interview Process. The board decided to interview Mr. Brockman. We will hold a special meeting, open to the public, for the interview at the district office on December 19th at 5:00 PM. To help us choose from a broad range of questions, the board is asking for your help to come up with questions for the interview. Please send potential questions to me at We also welcome your input after the interview.

Consideration of Appointment. The board will hold a special meeting to consider the appointment of an interim superintendent at the district office on January 4th, 2024 at 6:00 PM.

Superintendent Transition Timeline. The board established an intended timeline for transition to a permanent superintendent. We intend to begin a full superintendent search process in Fall, 2024. The process would include extensive community and staff input, with the goal of choosing a permanent superintendent in Spring, 2025.

In other important news from the board:

OSPI Binding Conditions. OSPI has agreed in principle to extend the timeline for meeting binding conditions by an additional year. OSPI has stated that they will issue a new binding conditions letter, with the extended timeline. We will post the letter on the district website when we receive it. This is good news for us because it will allow us to reach the requirements with much less disruption to our educational programs and staff. OSPI is favorably impressed with the steps that we have taken recently, including reducing expenses and forming the financial fact-finding work group. Our current cost savings are projected to have a significant improvement to this year’s ending fund balance, which will keep us well above OSPI’s requirements for this year. They have expressed full confidence that MBSD will successfully emerge from binding conditions.

Financial Fact-Finding Work Group. The financial fact-finding work group has made great progress in gathering data on our programs and expenditures. The data will be very useful in the next steps of budget development. The financial fact-finding work group’s purpose is fact-finding only, not decision-making. I want to express my gratitude to the members of the work group for their hard work and enthusiasm. The members include Nick Perigo, Brian Fraser, Bridget Rossman, Ian Linterman, Matt Durand, Todd Mathews, Lindy Jewell, Holly Koon, Erin DeRoco, and Shannon Richardson. School board members on the group are Ed Fox and Russ Pfeiffer-Hoyt.

As you may know, Mary Sewright is taking a leave of absence beginning on December 18th. Nick Perigo has been appointed as superintendent designee until the board hires an interim superintendent. I want to thank Nick for stepping right in to keep our district running smoothly in this transition. I would also like to have you join me in welcoming Jason Bloodgood to the school board.

I want to thank all of you for your dedication and support as we work to restore financial stability for our district. As staff members, you are the ones that make our district go. Your care for all of our students shows in everything that you do.


Russ Pfeiffer-Hoyt
President, Mount Baker School Board