March 16, 2008 in City

Stowell chosen to lead schools

By The Spokesman-Review
The Spokesman-Review photo

(Full-size photo)

Nancy Stowell, who’s worked in Spokane schools for more than 30 years, landed the district’s top job Saturday afternoon.

The school board unanimously chose Stowell as its superintendent after a decision by the other finalist to withdraw from consideration.

Darlene Schottle, the superintendent in Kalispell, Mont., contacted Spokane school board members on Saturday saying she no longer was a candidate for the job.

After the retirement last year of Brian Benzel, Spokane Public Schools mounted a national search. Six finalists were identified and interviewed before the board’s search committee narrowed the list to three.

One candidate withdrew earlier this year, leaving Stowell and Schottle to go through a final round of meetings and interviews. Board members met Thursday, but didn’t reach a decision, said member Christie Querna, who headed the search effort.

Then Schottle, in an e-mail Saturday, told Querna her withdrawal made sense and “lessened any discussion” within the Spokane community about selecting an outsider over a well-known candidate.

The 59-year-old Stowell is the district’s interim superintendent, a position she assumed after Benzel’s retirement seven months ago. Her interim superintendent’s salary is $159,500 per year.

That contract runs through June, and Querna said no new salary range has been negotiated yet. Typically, school boards hire superintendents for three-year contracts, she said.

To date, the national search for the job has cost roughly $35,000, according to Querna.

It was undertaken to ensure the person found met the community’s highest expectations, said board member Bob Douthitt.

Querna said the search confirmed that Stowell, whose experience includes being a teacher and administrator, matched up well against strong national applicants.

Schottle “would have done just fine; she’s a very quick read,” Querna said. But board members found themselves preferring the local candidate, she said.

“There is a sense of comfort, I guess, in staying with someone who knows the community from the ground up,” Querna said.

Raised in Spokane, Stowell attended Washington State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of Science and Arts. She also has a master’s degree in education and a doctorate in educational administration.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email