After two years of searching, the Ashland School Board has hired Jay W. Hummel as superintendent to replace Juli Di Chiro, who is retiring in July after 13 years as head of the district.
Hummel is in charge of a school district on the outskirts of Boise, Idaho. There, the budget is about 40 percent less than Ashland's yet it serves 45 percent more students and the on-time high school graduation rate is higher than Ashland's.
The hiring announcement was made Monday night during the Ashland School Board meeting. Hummel was not present.
Hummel has been the superintendent of the Kuna Joint School District since 2005. He also has served as an assistant superintendent, high school principal — including two years in Ontario in Eastern Oregon — counselor, coach and English teacher since his education career started in 1978.
He earned his sixth-year superintendent degree from the University of Idaho. At the College of Idaho, he received a bachelor's degree in secondary education, English and health as well as a master's degree in education and a K-12 administrator's certificate.
According to the Kuna Joint School District website, the district has a budget of $27 million and 500 employees serving 5,000 students. There are seven elementary schools, one middle school, one high school and one alternative high school.
The on-time high school graduation rate in the Kuna district has stayed around 92 percent for three years and the district has met statewide K-12 goals in reading, math and language arts.
In comparison, ASD has a budget of $43.9 million and approximately 300 full- and part-time teachers, support staff and administrators, serving nearly 2,750 students. There are three elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, a K-8 magnet school and a K-12 learning center.
In Ashland, the four-year graduation rate for the Class of 2012 was 86 percent, which was a drop from 91 percent in 2011 and 89 percent in 2010.
Hummel was one of two finalists selected from a pool of 19 applicants during a second attempt this year to hire a new superintendent.
The other finalist in the second round was Russell Pickett, who has been superintendent for six years in Tenino, Wash., a district 10 miles south of Olympia with about 1,300 students.
Both candidates came to Ashland earlier this month for a series of final interviews and school tours after undergoing a process of screenings, interviews, reference checks and a visit by Ashland School Board members to their school districts.
The candidates visited Ashland schools on May 3. The next day, they were interviewed by committees comprised of community members, parents and staff, and later school board members.
The budgeted salary for the new superintendent is from $120,000 to $135,000, according to Ashland School Board Chairwoman Carol Davis.
Hummel starts July 1. Di Chiro will have time to work with him.
The vote was unanimous.
"Jay is a proactive education leader, collaborative and a person of integrity," said School Board member Jim Westrick.
Board member John Williams added that Hummel has a history of staying with a school district.
Davis said Hummel was challenged with budget cuts and he partnered with technological and medical companies to create "competitive graduates." "He's an out-of-the-box thinker," she says.