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Oregon Trail school district picks new leader

Board offers Shelley Redinger the superintendent job
by: garth guibord, Incoming Superintendent Shelley Redinger, left, tours Firwood Elementary School with Principal Debbie Johnson Thursday afternoon, March 15.

SANDY - The Oregon Trail School District has picked its new leader.

At a special School Board meeting Thursday, March 15, the board unanimously agreed to offer the district's superintendent position to Dr. Shelley Redinger, executive director of teaching and learning at the Richland School District in Richland, Wash.

Redinger, 39 - the lone candidate of 19 applicants to receive a second interview - will replace retiring Superintendent Clementina Salinas on July 1.

'I'm very excited, and I'm looking forward to being the superintendent,' said Redinger, who has a young son and plans to relocate to the district. 'I think it's going to be a really enjoyable job. There are great people (in the district), and it's a great place to live.'

District officials expect to open contract negotiations with Redinger on Wednesday, March 21, and to approve the contract details at the Monday, April 9, board meeting.

Redinger was one of five candidates to interview for the position earlier in the month. Before the board made its offer March 15, it interviewed Redinger one last time, and the community also got the opportunity to interview her during a low-attended 'meet and greet' event that evening.

'She's vibrant and positive and genuine,' said Boring resident Mike Twist, 40, who was at the meet-and-greet. 'I think she's done some homework, and I'm excited about ushering in a new and positive era.'

In preparation for the offer, board members John Bromley and Norm Trost also visited Redinger's current employer, the Richland School District, on Wednesday, March 14.

Bromley said he and Trost met with a variety of people, including the Richland superintendent, assistant superintendent, three board members, teachers, community leaders and former union representatives.

'I first divided my paper between positive and negative, and after 25 people, there were no negatives,' Bromley said. 'I've interviewed people before, and I've never had anyone come out that well.'

Redinger noted the biggest challenge facing her as superintendent will be passing a bond measure for a new high school. Her experience in Washington saw failure of a $77.8 million bond, followed by its success two years later. The bond was used to construct two new elementary schools and a new middle school, and renovate two high schools.

'I've learned a lot about how not to do (a bond) and what you need to do to pass it,' Redinger said.

Redinger also told community members of her experience and training in contract negotiations and that her district avoided teachers' strikes, another concern of local residents.

'You don't have to wait to deal with issues until you go to the table,' Redinger said. 'I would like to do that ahead of time. That's a good way to avoid strikes.'

Local residents in attendance approved of the board's choice and seemed impressed by the answers that Redinger had to their questions.

'I think you've found a winner,' Bob duBiel, chairman of the Mt. Hood Area Chamber of Commerce, told Board Chairman Terry Lenchitsky at the end of the community forum.

The next meeting of the Oregon Trail School District will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, April 9, at the city of Sandy chambers.