Superintendent Search

  • Update June 22, 2017

    Donna Colosky appointed as superintendent of Mercer Island School District

    The Mercer Island School Board has unanimously named Donna Colosky as superintendent of the Mercer Island School District. Donna Colosky  

    Colosky is currently superintendent for Paradise Unified School District, in Paradise, Calif.  She brings 19 years of experience in educational leadership and 32 years total in public education. In her current position, Colosky is responsible for leading the second-largest district in rural Butte County of Northern California and the second-largest employer in the town of Paradise.Under her leadership, Google Apps for Education has been implemented and the District has moved towards 1-to-1 Chromebooks, along with a focus on professional development on best practices for instruction and setting the pathway for the District as a Future-Ready District. 

    “We feel Donna Colosky is a great fit for Mercer Island," said Board President David D’Souza. “Her caring and passion for public education, experience and breadth of knowledge were evident during our interviews with her. We look forward to welcoming her to our Island community.”

    “Thank you to the Board for placing their confidence in me to serve as the next Mercer Island superintendent,” Colosky said. “I’m excited to be joining such an awesome team and community and building on the great foundation of Mercer Island Schools.”

    Prior to her current position, Colosky spent 27 years in the Apple Valley Unified School District in the High Desert area of Southern California. During her tenure, her positions included assistant superintendent of human resources, director of curriculum and instruction, principal in charge of establishing a new, technology-based elementary school, elementary principal, assistant principal, master/mentor teacher and classroom teacher. Before joining Apple Valley Unified School District, Colosky was an elementary teacher, teaching primary grades and school-wide music.

    Colosky received her master’s in Educational Leadership and administrative services credential from Chapman University. She earned her Bachelor of Music, as well as her teaching certificate, from the University of British Columbia. She was raised in Burnaby, B.C.

    Colosky and her husband of 30 years have two grown children, both of whom attended K-12 public schools and graduated from public universities. In her time spent outside of her passion for education, Donna enjoys snow skiing, hiking, kayaking as well as reading, gardening and yoga. 

    The Board has had an intensive five-month process, since Dr. Gary Plano announced his retirement effective June 30, to find the next Mercer Island superintendent. That process included hiring a search firm, solicitation of public input to define the district’s needs, weekly search meetings with public input, evaluating and researching 64 applications, and many hours of candidate interviews, including the community forums with the candidates this week.

    “As elected officials, we recognize the trust placed in us by the Mercer Island community and we hope to live up to the high standards this community expects,” D’Souza said.

    Update: June 21, 2017 Special Meeting and Community Forums

    The board interviewed the three finalist candidates from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in executive session. 

    Community forums were conducted from 2 to 5 p.m. to enable all community members to listen to the candidates answer questions asked by community members. 

    The board reconvened in executive session at 6:30 p.m. to deliberate on the next superintendent in executive session.   

    Update: June 20, 2017 Special Meeting / Study Session

    The Board conducted an executive session to discuss the second round of questions to be asked of candidates and logistics for interviews and community sessions. Interviews were planned for Wednesday, June 21 with the three finalist candidates as previously announced. 

    The Board also intends to hold a public meeting on June 22, 2017 at 8:15 a.m. at the MISD Board Room to discuss the superintendent candidates and take final action. 

    Update: June 19, 2017

    Three finalists for MISD superintendent to hold community forums Wednesday, June 21

    The Mercer Island School Board has named three finalists for superintendent. Each will have the opportunity to meet the community for an hour during a forum to be held Wednesday, June 21 from 2 to 5 p.m. in the Northwood Elementary Commons, 4030 86th S.E. Those attending the forum will have the opportunity to give written feedback on the candidates to the School Board.

    The three finalists are:

    Dr. Vickie Cartwright, Associate Superintendent for Exceptional Student Education (ESE) in Orange County Public Schools (OCPS), Orlando, Fla. 

    Dr. Cartwright oversees a department responsible for supporting over 44,000 students and leads both principals, central office administrators, instructional personnel serving in multiple support roles, and classified staff. Before leading the ESE department, Dr. Cartwright led the Accountability, Research, and Assessment Department in OCPS.

    She currently serves as the Vice-President of the American Educational Research Association for the Division of Research, Evaluation, and Assessment in Schools. In addition to working in OCPS, Dr. Cartwright has taught graduate students as an adjunct instructor at the University of Central Florida.

    Her administrative experience includes being a secondary level school assistant principal and principal in suburban communities, and prior instructional experience includes serving as an elementary school music teacher and a middle and high school band director.

    Dr. Cartwright graduated from the University of Florida with her Bachelor of Music in Music Education. She continued her education at the University of Southern Mississippi, where she completed her Masters in Music Education and ultimately her Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Administration. She has been married to Dr. Carl Cartwright for 26 years and has a son, Dylan, who will start college this fall. 

    Donna Colosky, Superintendent of Paradise Unified School District in Paradise, California. 

    As the Superintendent of Paradise Unified District, Colosky is responsible for leading the second-largest district in rural Butte County of Northern California and the second-largest employer in the town of Paradise. Under her leadership, Google Apps for Education has been implemented and the District has moved towards 1-to-1 Chromebooks.

    Prior to her current position, Ms. Colosky spent 27 years in the Apple Valley Unified School District in the High Desert area of Southern California. During her tenure, her positions included Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Principal in charge of establishing a new, technology-based elementary school, Elementary Principal, Assistant Principal, Master/Mentor Teacher and classroom teacher. Before joining Apple Valley Unified School District, Colosky was an elementary teacher, teaching primary grades and school-wide music.

    Colosky received her Master's in Educational Leadership and Administrative Services Credential from Chapman University. She earned her Bachelor of Music, as well as her teaching certificate, from the University of British Columbia.

    Colosky and her husband of 30 years have two grown children, both of whom attended K-12 public schools and graduated from public universities. In her time spent outside of her passion for education, Donna enjoys snow skiing, hiking, kayaking as well as reading, gardening and yoga. 

    Dr. Paul Gordon, Superintendent of Glen Ellyn School District 41 in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. 

    Dr. Paul Gordon was named superintendent of Glen Ellyn School District 41 in 2013.  Glen Ellyn is a progressive district that strives to ensure students are educationally prepared, globally conscious, bilingual, critical thinkers and problem-solvers who embrace challenges through inquiry based learning. 

    Prior to his service to Glen Ellyn, he worked in the 42,000 student Adams 12 Five Star School District in Colorado.  He served as Chief Academic Officer, overseeing curriculum and instruction, innovation, grants, professional development, student services, and strategic planning. He also served for seven years as a principal and assistant principal.  As a teacher, he worked with students who were reading two to five years behind grade level.

    Gordon has a bachelor's degree in secondary education from Metropolitan State University; a Master's of education in administration and supervision from University of Phoenix, and a doctorate of education from Fielding Graduate University.

    He is a father of two college-age children, Matthew (DePaul University) and Gabriella (University of Kansas) and has been married for 22 years to his wife, Marianne. He gives his time to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and other causes close to his family. He also enjoys outdoor activities and sports. 

    The Board has had an intensive five-month process, since Dr. Gary Plano announced his retirement effective June 30, to find the next Mercer Island superintendent. That process included hiring a search firm, solicitation of public input to define the district's needs, weekly search meetings with public input, evaluating and researching 64 applications, and many hours of candidate interviews.

    The next steps include further interviews by the Board, the community forums, and a final selection process by the Board in public session. After the Board makes its selection, there is a final vetting and contract negotiation process.


    Update: June 14, 2017 Special Meeting / Study Session

    The Board took public input. The Board conducted an executive session to continue discussion of questions to be asked of candidates and logistics for interviews and community sessions. Interviews were planned for Friday, June 16 and Saturday, June 17 of six candidates for superintendent.

    Update: June 7, 2017 Special Meeting / Study Session

    The Board took public input. The board discussed logistics for each date, logistics for community participation, and logistics for questions to be asked.  The Board conducted an executive session to discuss questions to be asked of candidates and logistics for community sessions. The Board believes conducting an open and broadly attended community forum with each finalist is the most equitable and logistically workable course of action. 

    Update: June 6, 2017 Regular Board Meeting

    The Board announced the following tentative dates for superintendent applicant interviews. The June 13 date is firm. The remaining dates are scheduled and blocked in advance with board members but applicants and their schedules are not yet known. To enable a diverse and large applicant pool, applicant names and interviews will remain confidential and conducted in closed Executive Session pursuant to RCW 42.30.110(1)(g). The finalists will be hosted in an open community session as indicated below.

    1) Executive Session, Tuesday June 13, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., MISD Board Room - The Board will review the applicants and identify four to six who would be invited to a first-round interview.

    2) Executive Session, Saturday June 17, Time TBD Location TBD - The Board will interview, in person, the above mentioned semi-finalist applicants. Names would be confidential. Interviews would be back to back and would be about 60 minutes each, including 10 to 15 minutes of questions from the candidates. 

    3) Executive & Open Sessions Wednesday June 21, Time TBD Location TBD - This would be a very full day of final in-person interviews by Board, community forums for each finalist, and final superintendent selection by the Board.  For fairness, all finalists are asked the same questions by the Board. Similarly, procedures will be implemented to ensure the same community questions are asked to all finalists. 

    Update: May 31, 2017 Special Meeting / Study Session

    The Board took public input and discussed the questions that would be asked to applicants during the semi-final and final interviews. For fairness, the same questions will be asked of all applicants.  The questions are confidential. 

    Update: May 25, 2017 Regular Board Meeting

    The board approved the informational article for the public regarding the superintendent search process and timeline.

    Update: May 24, 2017 Special Meeting / Study Session

    The board took public input and completed an informational article for the public regarding the superintendent search process and timeline.

    Update: May 17, 2017 Special Meeting / Study Session

    The board took public input and discussed an informational article for the public regarding the superintendent search process and timeline.

    Update: May 11, 2017 Regular Board Meeting

    The Board has approved the superintendent job recruiting flyer and our search firm has begun advertisement, distribution, and recruiting. The Board’s goal is to find a full time superintendent by June 30. The opportunity to apply for the position closes June 6, with a private review of all applicants by the Board starting June 13. A final slate of candidates is expected the week of June 26, when the Board will seek community input. 

    Update: May 10, 2017 Special Meeting / Study Session

    The Board met with our search firm to discuss the community survey and final recommendations for the superintendent’s leadership characteristics. Outreach to thousands of parents, community leaders and organizations, teachers, staff, students, seven in-person meetings, and various school and community newsletters provided survey responses and input that shaped the following leadership characteristics for inclusion in the job recruiting flyer:

    • Possesses excellent people skills, presents a positive image of the District, will listen to input, and make a decision when necessary.

    • Inspires trust, has high levels of self-confidence and optimism, and models high standards of integrity and personal performance.

    • Is a strong communicator; speaking, listening and writing.

    • Has knowledge of and successful experience in sound fiscal practices and management of District resources, including appropriate participation of others in planning and decision-making.

    • Has experience dealing with employee representative groups/unions.

    • Is able to delegate authority appropriately while maintaining accountability.

    • Is strongly committed to a “student first” philosophy in all decisions.

    • Has experience in the selection and implementation of educational priorities consistent with the interests and needs of students, staff, Board and community.

    • Has demonstrated strong leadership skills in previous positions.

    The job description will be posted in a number of state and national publications including the AASA Job Bulletin & Website, Education Week Newspaper & Website, National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE), Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS), and numerous, relevant, free job listing websites. Additionally, the search firm will continue their outreach process to actively recruit compelling candidates.

    Diversity training videos and advice for (academic) search committees from the UCLA facility selection committee was shared with the Board to inform them of best practices for reaching unbiased candidate selection outcomes. 

    The deadline to apply is June 6, 2017. The Board expects to examine the initial round of applicants in private sessions beginning June 13. A final slate of candidates is expected the week of June 26, when the Board will seek community input. 

    Update: May 3, 2017 Special Meeting / Study Session / Public Input

    The Board met to take public input on the search process, discuss process, timeline, and the first draft of the superintendent recruiting materials.  

    Update: May 2, 2017 Two more input opportunities 

    The Board invites input from District families and the community about the search at its meeting at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 3, in the Board Room of the MISD Administration Building at 4160 86th S.E., and during a study session at 6 p.m., Thursday, May 11, at Mercer Island City Hall, 9611 S.E. 36th St.

    Update: May 1, 2017 The Superintendent Search Survey is now closed.

    Update: Superintendent search survey now online and community meetings scheduled for April 25 and 26
    The community is invited to participate in one of the scheduled forums at 2 and 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 25 and at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 26, in the Board Room of the MISD Administration Building, 4160 86th SE. These forums will be facilitated by the District’s search consultant, Ray and Associates.

    In addition, the District has opened an online survey to receive input from staff, students, parents, and members of the community about the characteristics and qualities important to Mercer Island in the selection of a new superintendent.  The survey will close at 8 a.m., Monday, May 1, 2017. Access the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WTJY8VX

    Update: April 20, 2017 

    (Mercer Island School Board President David D'Souza made the following statement at the April 20 regular Board meeting regarding status of the Superintendent Search)

    On April 5th, the Board met with search consultant, Ray and Associates to review our timeline for the search. The key dates include the week of April 24th for gathering feedback on the qualities people consider important for the superintendent both via an online survey and an in-person, moderated session, and May 1 for the deadline for the survey.  This will allow our search consultant to produce a job description which will be used to source and recruit candidates.  The current timeline is included in the board package and will be put onto the superintendent search webpage.

    Besides the electronic survey, our search consultant will conduct a series of in-person meetings to help gather feedback from the the entire community. 

    We have scheduled open community meetings for 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday April 25, and 7 p.m. Wednesday April 26. Everyone is welcome to attend the meeting that fits their schedule. Our search consultants will work with attendees to survey their priorities for a superintendent. Board members will not be present as to not unduly influence the discussion.  These meetings have been advertised in the MI Reporter, social media outlets, and email.  In separate meetings, we will be sourcing input from district staff and high school students. 

     Date Time Location Group
     4/25/17 (Tues.) 2 p.m
     Board Room, Adm. Bldg. Parents, PTAs, Boosters, General
     4/25/17 (Tues.) 7 p.m. Board Room, Adm. Bldg.
     Parents, PTAs, Boosters, General
     4/26/17 (Wed.) 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m.
     MIHS HS students
     4/26/17 (Wed.) 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. MIHS HS students
     4/26/17 (Wed.)  4 p.m. Board Room, Adm. Bldg. Staff
     4/26/17 (Wed.)  7 p.m. Board Room, Adm. Bldg. Community Partners, General
     
    As of April 17th, an electronic survey has been sent to 8000+ email addresses of parents and leaders of 30+ school and island leadership groups including the PTAs, sports groups, city groups, and school partner groups. We will continue to work to ensure we have identified and reached out to all Island organizations and their leaders.  The list of groups we have reached out to is included in the board packet. If we have missed anyone, please let me know.  The Board's goal is to ensure everyone has opportunity to contribute and assist the Board in filling this very important role. 

    The resulting profile and job description will be used to recruit and find candidates. In addition to direct recruiting, the last page of the board packet lists a selection of free and paid publications where this job will be advertised so we attract a diverse pool of candidates. 

    The Board has been meeting regularly on Wednesday, 8pm, to do this work. Due to the usage of the MISD board room on April 26th for community forums, we will cancel our regular superintendent succession work meeting on that evening. 

    I would like to reinforce that all this has been the work of the five members of this school board.  As President, I’ve been providing the status updates so that the five of us speak with one voice.  But I hope the community doesn't confuse the messenger with the workers. This effort truly represents hard work and dedication from all five board members. 

    Update: April 19, 2017 Special Meeting / Study Session

    The board reviewed the community outreach plan and schedule. 

    Update: April 12, 2017 Special Meeting / Study Session was not held due to Spring Break

    Update: April 6, 2017 Special Meeting / Study Session

    The Board met with search consultant Ray and Associates to discuss process, timeline, community outreach, and interview the Board regarding qualities needed in a superintendent.  Status will be presented at the next regular board meeting April 20, 2017.  

    Update: April 5, 2017 Special Meeting / Study Session has been moved to Thursday, April 6 at 7 p.m. in conference room C of the MISD Administration Building.
    The Board will be meeting with Ray and Associates at this meeting.
    Update: March 30, 2017 Regular Meeting
    (Mercer Island School Board President David D'Souza gave the following update at the March 30 regular Board meeting regarding status of the Superintendent Search) 

    Over the past two weeks, the board met with representatives from four superintendent search firms: 

    1) Northwest Leadership Associates
    2) Ray and Associates
    3) Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates (HYA)
    4) McPherson & Jacobson, LLC

    The goal of the search firm is to help the Board find an interim and/or final superintendent. Omitting details for brevity, the selected firm will work with the Board to create a timeline, source interim and/or final superintendent candidates, facilitate outreach to the community and stakeholders for feedback, and finally assist the board with a selection. In particular, multiple firms suggested there was a viable opportunity to directly hire a final superintendent on our schedule. 

    Representatives from these firms worked to fit our tight schedule, convey information about their professional services, and answer the board's detailed questions. Personally, I found every session enlightening and speaks to the high caliber of the companies. 

    After discussion, the Board unanimously voted to select Ray and Associates as our superintendent search firm.  

    Update: March 29, 2017 Special Meeting / Study Session

    The board met with representatives of the following superintendent search firms:
    1) Ray and Associates
    2) Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates (HYA)
    3) McPherson & Jacobson, LLC

    Following the meetings, there was a discussion on the superintendent succession process. 

    Update: March 23, 2017
    (Mercer Island School Board President David D'Souza gave the following update at the March 23 regular Board meeting regarding status of the Superintendent Search)

    The Board has scheduled work sessions every Wednesday at 8 p.m. in the Administration Building in Conference Room C.  These meetings have been publicly noticed on the Board’s Board Docs site as well as the MI Reporter. The Board will take no action at these meetings and instead conduct any related action at regular board meetings.

    The Board is currently interviewing superintendent search firms to help us find an interim superintendent by June 30 and then a permanent superintendent. 

    Most recently we interviewed a representative of Northwest Leadership Associates who described the process of a superintendent search. 

    I anticipate we will interview additional firms over the coming one to two weeks. It is my hope we will select a firm in April.

    The selected firm will facilitate creating a timeline, finding interim superintendent candidates, finding final superintendent candidates, supporting outreach to the community and stakeholders for feedback, and finally assisting the Board with final selection over the next year.

    Update: March 22, 2017 Special Meeting / Study Session

    The Board met with representatives of the superintendent search firm Northwest Leadership Associates. 

    Following the meeting, there was a discussion on the superintendent succession process.  

    Update: March 9, 2017
    (Mercer Island School Board President David D'Souza made the following statement at the March 9 regular Board meeting regarding status of the Superintendent Search)

    Tonight, I would like to provide an update on our superintendent search process.

    As you know, on January 19, Superintendent Gary Plano announced he will retire on June 30, 2017. At that time, the Board diligently began its efforts to find the next superintendent.

    Over the past seven weeks, we have held special meetings, in executive session to review the performance of current employees and evaluate the qualifications of internal candidates for a new superintendent. At this time, however, I do not believe that selecting an internal candidate to start work on July 1, 2017 is a viable option. Opportunity, timing, and readiness must converge for us to fill this leadership role and that did not happen.

    Therefore, I believe that the board now needs to move forward with a broader superintendent search using a formal process that will involve input from a variety of stakeholders.  This process would provide the Board and the community an opportunity to consider both interim candidates for 2017-18 as well as potential long term candidates starting either July 1 of this year or 2018.

    To conduct such a search process, the Board should consider procuring  the services of a superintendent search firm to guide it through the process of finding an interim, if needed, and a long term superintendent.

    Starting a school district public web page with information about these efforts and to share schedules, key dates, and progress, is advisable. It would reflect information shared and discussed at public board meetings for easy access by the community and stakeholders.

    I think we are all excited to begin this journey and look forward to interacting with the community and stakeholders to find the best superintendent for the Mercer Island School District.  We're an incredibly compelling district with our strong community, our shared values toward education, thriving students, and a brilliant and highly functioning group of teachers and staff.

    With that background, I would like to propose that the Board kick off our search with a motion to create a board committee of two members to identify and recommend a search firm to the Board for approval who can help design and implement such a process.