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Utterback named new NCSD leader

School Board members voted 4-3 on Thursday to appoint Matt Utterback as permanent superintendent of the North Clackamas School District.

Commending him for giving school district employees clear direction and leadership in support of the instruction of students, all seven elected officials expressed admiration for Utterback’s dedication and hard work since he assumed the role of interim superintendent in July.

Several suggested that they would never find a better superintendent, but board members Cheryl Myers, Sam Gillispie and Vivian Scott wanted to continue the process for a smaller regional search.

“My ‘no’ vote was related to process, not regarding the high regard I hold for Matt Utterback,” said Myers. “I believe he will be an excellent permanent superintendent for NCSD.”

Board member Kyle Walker made the successful motion that will avoid delays and costs to the district of up to $70,000 in search expenses.

“It’s a culmination of several things for me,” Walker said. “We’ve had several months now to watch Matt and get feedback, and it became clear to me that the organization needed permanency and we couldn’t spend precious dollars on recruitment that would probably have determined that Matt was the one for us anyway.”

Utterback is excited by the opportunities that lie ahead in becoming the sixth superintendent in the history of the district. He credited “tremendous” support of district staff during the past six months in demonstrating shared commitment to local students and community members.

“With the help of our great staff members, I have a lot of optimism for the challenges we face,” Utterback said. “It is a job that is incredibly rewarding. To have an opportunity to impact the lives of 17,000 students is daunting, but also an opportunity that I relish. I will work exceptionally hard to create a positive experience for students and staff. “

Last month, the School Board reviewed the results of a community and staff survey, then spent time at two board meetings, including Thursday night, discussing the best strategy to select a permanent leader. The board considered both a regional search as well as a direct appointment. During the board meeting, representatives of three employee associations requested that officials make the appointment.

“The presidents urged the board to move forward because we need a united front when the Legislature meets,” said Deborah Barnes, president of the North Clackamas Education Association. “We have so many issues before us, and we needed to get one of those out of the way so we can focus on advocating that state representatives adequately fund schools.”

Utterback’s time as interim superintendent has been marked by an emphasis on making clear goals for staff to support students through effective teaching practices, a focus on equity issues and removing the barriers to success for each student, as well as an emphasis on developing literacy.

Utterback, 45, has spent his entire career in the school district in several different positions in all three of the school district’s feeder systems. During the past 23 years as a teacher, school administrator and assistant superintendent, he has had success working with parents and staff to improve student achievement.

He has lived in the district for nearly 20 years. His wife is a high school English teacher in the district, and his daughter is a freshman at Clackamas High School.