Oak Harbor principals shuffled after one retires

One Oak Harbor School District building administrator abruptly retired as of Aug. 1, causing the district to transfer principals around, resulting in a vocal backlash from some staff at the Monday night school board meeting.

Staff members usually give several months’ notice when they want to retire, but Oak Harbor Middle School Principal Sue Haworth gave notice the day before, said Rick Schulte, superintendent of schools.

As a result, Schulte reassigned Joyce Swanson to replace Haworth. Swanson has been the principal at Olympic View Elementary for a number of years.

Olympic View Elementary School faculty and staff presented a letter signed by 21 employees to the school board, and to Schulte, asking the district to reconsider the move. In a reading of the letter at the board meeting, staff said their main beef is the timing of the transfer.

The Olympic View building has undergone a major remodel over the past year, and faculty, staff and students will finally return to their own building with the start of the school year. Additionally, employees and the student body of Olympic View Elementary had to be relocated after the emergency closure of the interim school site in April. The staff wants some time to settle down.

“We are anxious about losing the one person who can advocate for our needs in tying up these loose ends,” the letter reads.

Also in the letter the staff complains about not being consulted about Swanson’s transfer.

Oak Harbor Education Association, the teachers’ union, is backing its members.

“This is kind of a difficult transition,” said Peter Szalai, co-president of OHEA. “We’re ... concerned about staff morale.”

Szalai said the district sent Olympic View Elementary staff a form letter in the mail, informing them of the administrative change. He said it should have been handled better, “so people could still feel valued.”

In the Olympic View staff statement to the board and Schulte, the group proposes that Swanson remain on as Olympic View principal for a while “to finish the remodel and re-establish our learning community.” The staff suggests that Matt Cobb, the assistant principal at Oak Harbor Middle School, be assigned as interim principal.

“It’s a good proposal,” Szalai said.

The school board referred the issue back to Schulte.

“Administrator assignments are not a school board issue,” said Kathy Jones, school board president.

Schulte said he will call a meeting within the next week to discuss the matter with the staff.

However, Schulte said after Monday night’s board meeting that he most likely will not change his mind.

With the transfer of Swanson to Oak Harbor Middle School, Marietta Weiner will assume the role of Olympic View principal. Weiner has been principal of Clover Valley Elementary and saw that school through a remodeling transition last year. She was also named Oak Harbor School District Administrator of the Year for 2001-2002.

Szalai said the Olympic View staff does not doubt Weiner’s abilities.

“It’s not about Marietta at all,” Szalai said.

The building administrator changes are rounded out by the reassignment of Ric Packard as principal of Clover Valley Elementary School. Packard joined the district last year as principal of Broad View Elementary School.

Broad View students will be dispersed throughout the district, attending classes at the other five elementary schools, while the Broad View building undergoes a remodel this school year. The principal position of Broad View will remain vacant for the year.

OHEA is concerned what will happen to the Broad View staff.

“How will that staff have its needs met?” in the absence of a principal, Szalai questioned.

Schulte agreed that there are issues about leaving the Broad View principal position vacant that will have to be worked out.

“There’s no question it will have an effect,” Schulte said.

Jones said the changes seemed like a good use of resources.

“We had six principals and five schools,” Schulte said.

The district will begin to advertise for a Broad View principal in February or March, 2003.

You can reach News-Times reporter Christine Smith at or call 675-6611

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