Donn Livoni’s infectious energy pushed him past the 38 other candidates for the top job in the Liberty School District, the school board president said.
“Probably the most impressive thing about him is his enthusiasm,” Sharon Colby said this week after the board announced it hired Livoni to replace Superintendent Armin Vogt.
Vogt is retiring after spending 33 years in the district as a teacher, principal and administrator.
“Just spending time around him makes you want to get busy and do something,” Colby said of Livoni. “In the short time he was here talking to people in the district, he fired them up.”
That’s likely to please the 48-yearold Livoni, who currently is an assistant superintendent in the 1,200-student Tonasket School District in Okanogan County.
“One of my challenges will be building relationships with the community and getting the community more involved,” said Livoni, who starts on July 1.
That won’t be easy, as the Liberty district, which has 730 students, serves a mostly rural population that is spread over a large area in southern Spokane County. Both the district’s school buildings are near the town of Spangle.
Livoni said he plans to use some of the tactics he learned in Tonasket to give people better access to school officials.
That includes holding school board meetings and other functions in outlying communities, instead of always at headquarters, he said.
“We’ll take the schools to them,” Livoni said. Such strategies pay dividends for both the community and the district, he said.
Tonasket passed a $8.7 million bond issue a year and a half ago to remodel the district’s buildings. It was the first bond to pass in the district in 25 years.
“We feel that a lot of it had to do with the fact that we went out into the community,” Livoni said.
Colby said the board hopes he can generate the same kind of community support for the schools in Liberty.
“We have several small communities with a diverse group of people, from hard-core farmers to professionals,” she said. “It’s hard to pin down a common denominator in our community. His experience with doing that was important.”
Livoni is a California native who earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of the Pacific in Stockton. He has a master’s degree from the University of Nevada-Reno and is pursuing a doctorate from Gonzaga University.
He began his education career in 1970 and has taught in California and Nevada and served as an administrator in New Hampshire.
He has spent the last five years in Tonasket, where he was principal at Tonasket High for three years before taking a job in the superintendent’s office.
Livoni is married and has two children.