Two finalists for Federal Way school superintendent

The Federal Way School Board has narrowed its search for a new superintendent to two candidates.

The board began the search last fall when Superintendent Tom Murphy announced his retirement after more than 20 years with the district.

There were 16 applicants for the job. Search firm McPherson and Jacobson recommended seven semi-finalists to the board. Six of those semi-finalists were interviewed, and two were chosen.

“We are seeking the person who will lead our district into the future and continue our vision of ‘all means all,’” said board president Tony Moore. “We believe these two candidates can accomplish those goals. Our next step will be to determine the best match for our district from among these two.”

The two finalists are Peter Dion of Novi, Mich., and Robert R. Neu of Waterford, Mich.

Dion has more experience, having been a superintendent for the Novi School District for 14 years. He was previously either a principal or assistant principal for 17 years.

Neu has been a superintendent for four years and a principal or assistant principal for three years.

Neu is the superintendent of a larger district: The Waterford School District has 11,500 students whereas the Novi School District has 6,200 students.

Novi School District

Novi is a small district with one high school, one middle school and five elementary schools. Ethnically, it is largely white. Minorities in the district are mostly Asian with some blacks and Hispanics. There are few English Language Learners and low-income students, according to last year's public information report. The district did make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) last year, and as a district, scores well on the state test (the Michigan Educational Assessment Program).

Waterford School District

There are 14 elementary schools, three middle schools and three high schools, including one alternative high school, in Waterford.

Overall, about three-quarters or better of students pass the state test.

The district met AYP last year. The elementary and middle schools also met AYP, but the high schools did not, according to their annual report.

Education backgrounds

Dion began his career as an elementary school teacher. He holds a master of arts degree in administration/early childhood education from Wayne State University, and has done extensive post-graduate work at Michigan State University in K-12 administration.

Neu started as a high school business teacher, cooperative education coordinator and basketball and track coach. He has an educational specialist degree in educational leadership from Oakland University, and a master of arts degree in secondary school administration.

What's to come

District staff and the community are invited to meet the candidates from 6 to 6:50 p.m. March 24 and 25 in the board room at the Educational Service Center, 31405 18th Ave. S.

Next week, the board will travel to Michigan to tour the districts each candidate oversees.

During the week of April 5, the board will make a selection and offer a contract. That contract is expected to be approved by April 13. Murphy will retire in June, and the new superintendent will begin July 1.

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