Washoe County School District selects new superintendent


Susan Enfield
Washoe County School District

Susan Enfield

UPDATE (April 27): The superintendent of a Seattle-area school system will take the helm of the Washoe County School District this summer.

Trustees voted 6-1 to offer the superintendent position to Dr. Susan Enfield, currently the head of Highline Public Schools.

The board unanimously approved a draft three-year contract with a salary range of $275,000 to $310,000 dollars. Other terms are pending negotiation and board approval.

Enfield’s first day as Washoe County School District superintendent is set for July 1. Current superintendent Kristen McNeill’s last day is June 30. 

ORIGINAL REPORT: The Washoe County School District is asking for the public’s opinion on five finalists to replace Superintendent Dr. Kristen McNeill, who is retiring at the end of the school year. 

The Board of Trustees hired The Bryan Group to lead the search.

Jhone Ebert

Nevada State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jhone Ebert told trustees in an interview last week about her efforts at the Clark County School District to improve career readiness for graduates. 

Ebert said the district’s six-fold increase in vocational and technical training program participation was due in part to clear, accessible communication with parents. 

Support comes from

“When we’re working.with the public, the things that are hardest is usually on us – I talk about holding the mirror up – that we have not communicated clearly,” she said.

“And so making sure that our communication is clear and that we’re listening. It’s not a checkbox. It truly is that we’re taking what we have heard and making adjustments and then also pushing it back out.”

Listen to the interview:

Susan Enfield

Susan Enfield is the superintendent of Highline Public Schools in the Seattle area. 

In an interview last week, Enfield told trustees about modifying disciplinary rules to address low graduation rates at public schools. She said her classroom philosophy informed her approach. 

“As a former high school teacher, I did not believe in suspension and expulsion, and , indeed, over the course of seven years of teaching, I never suspended a student,” Enfield said.

“I had plenty of students in my room at lunch and after school for some conversations, but I refused to give a student the notion that I was discarding them, that I was throwing them away.” 

Listen to the interview:

Sherell Hobbs

Sherrell Hobbs is the president and CEO of Victory Educational Solutions in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Hobbs told trustees a passion for literacy drove her to become a principal and take on a “library makeover” project for her school. 

She said the grant-funded overhaul made the library a great resource for getting parents involved. 

“When I first came, in terms of parent support, they were sort of huddled around the idea of what was going on in the school, but not necessarily involved and being a part to be invited to the table,” Hobbs said. “So the library was very useful for being able to bring us all together. Because I believe in shared governance. I believe that everyone should have a voice and be able to be creatively involved.”

Listen to the interview:

Shawn Loescher

Shawn Loescher is CEO of Urban Discovery Schools in San Diego. 

Loescher told trustees last week about using the stress of leading a school system through major budget cuts to his advantage. 

“The hardest part about leading in a crisis is remaining positive in the face of certain adversity, and that I needed to move from a position of distress to eustress – a positive disposition of how we would reframe that,” Loescher said.

“And immediately, I began the process of thinking about the people we needed to bring together around the table to talk about how we could reposition ourselves and reposition the entire division so that way, we could deliver those services that we knew were needed, but in a very different way.”

Listen to the interview:

Caprice Young

Caprice Young is the president of the Education Growth Group in Los Angeles.

She told trustees in an interview last week about her work handling a financial crisis that left a school system in LA unable to make payroll. 

Young said she asked teams of school personnel to draft budget proposals that reflected a 50% cut. 

“The difference between asking somebody to cut 20% or 25% or 30% versus 50% is that when you’re making relatively small cuts, you tend to just skinny down what you’re already doing and starve yourself, basically. But when you’re asked to make a 50% cut, you have to change the way you’re working completely, and often, you get to more creative, more pro-kid solutions,” she said.

Listen to the interview:

The board is expected to vote on who to hire April 26. 

The new superintendent will start on July 1. For more information about each candidate and the board’s survey, click here. 


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