UPDATED: School district back to square one on superintendent search

5:30 p.m. The Ashland School Board is scheduled to meet at 7 tonight to map out strategies, goals and the time line for a new superintendent search after all three finalists for the job bowed out of consideration.

Ashland's top pick for its new school superintendent, Gary Plano, withdrew from consideration Wednesday after a breakdown in contract negotiations. The other two finalists — Debra Munk, principal of Rockville High School in Maryland, and William McCoy, superintendent of Red Bluff, Calif., Union School District — withdrew earlier.

Plano, the superintendent of Mercer Island Schools in Washington, cited a lack of “synergy and immediate connection ... In short, I felt the position wasn't a good fit for me.”

Plano said the low salary and tight budgets were not the issue, but that “It boiled down to the relating parties settling on the terms of the contract. We couldn't agree. We discovered that in the process, that it wasn't a good fit.”

In an email to his staff, Plano said, “After deep reflection I realized there wasn't the synergy and immediate connection I had over five years ago when I accepted the position as the Mercer Island superintendent. In short, I felt the position wasn't a good fit for me.”

Plano said, “I knew that in coming to Oregon there would be a significant pay reduction and it (his withdrawal) was not about the contraction of budgets.”

— John Darling

10:45 a.m. The Ashland School District is rebooting its search for a new superintendent shortly after it announced it had picked finalists for the position.

"Our community has set the bar high in their expectations," board chairwoman Carol Davis said today in a news release. "Through community input we created a list of qualifications that our superintendent needs in order to be successful in our district. Although all three finalists had wonderful qualities, none were the right fit for our community."

Finalists included William McCoy, superintendent of Red Bluff Union School District in California, Debra Munk, principal of Rockville High School in Maryland, and Gary Plano, superintendent of Mercer Island School District in Washington had been the district's picks following an initial screening and interview process. The candidates toured the district and met with students and community members Friday.

The Oregon School Boards Association will continue helping the district in its search for a replacement for Juli Di Chiro, who is retiring at the end of the school year, the news release said.

— Ryan Pfeil

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