Winlock Hires New Schools Chief


    The Winlock School District will have its first new superintendent in seven years after a month-long search to replace departing school chief Dick Conley.

    Winlock School District board chairman Scott Weinert told The Chronicle Monday the district hired Shannon Criss, superintendent of the Ephrata School District, effective July 1. Criss has served as the top administrator in Ephrata since 1990 and will take over for Conley, who announced he will leave for the Boundary County School District in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, at the end of the 2010-11 school year.

    “We were really impressed with (Criss’) all-around knowledge,” Weinert said. “One area we’re trying to consistently improve is our test scores, and she has a track record of improvement in Ephrata that we’re confident she will bring down here.”

    Weinert said the school board interviewed four finalist candidates and held a meet-and-greet session with the public Friday, ending with the board’s decision to extend an employment offer to Criss at 10:30 that evening. Officials with the district that serves 740 students sent the letter of intent Monday and Criss signed, meaning the board only needs to vote on her contract at their next board meeting.

    “Friday was a 14-hour day for all of us involved in the process,” Weinert said. “But it was worth it.”

    Criss stands to make $103,000 in her first year — “in line” with what Conley made, according to Weinert. According to data from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Winlock’s last reported school budget in 2008-09 was $9.9 million.

    The district’s search for a superintendent began in April and initially included 17 candidates, none from Lewis County, Weinert said. The district hired a consultant due to the time constraint, as contracts for administrators generally run July 1 to June 30 the following year.


    Christopher Brewer: (360) 807-8235


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