February 15, 2014 in City

East Valley school superintendent stepping down

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Glenewinkel
(Full-size photo)

East Valley School District Superintendent John Glenewinkel and the district’s board have reached an agreement that will release Glenewinkel from his contract.

“He would have liked to have stayed,” board Chairman Mike Novakovich said. He said Glenewinkel had concerns that he wouldn’t be the right person to lead the district, if the board decided to reverse the K-8 model of education that the district finished implementing this school year. “There has never been any discussion with the board to fire him.”

“It was a mutual agreement,” said Glenewinkel, who has been on vacation since Feb. 1. He said that while his lawyer and the district’s lawyer were negotiating his severance agreement, it was “a good idea I wasn’t involved in the day-to-day operation of the district.”

The board voted 4 to 1 to approve the severance package and release Glenewinkel. Details of the package weren’t released. Glenewinkel’s departure comes after uncertainty and turmoil regarding the district’s move to a K-8 model. Some parents have complained the infrastructure of the district is inadequate to serve students effectively. Among the complaints is a lack of lockers for the older students, who must carry their books, instruments, coats and sports equipment with them throughout the day.

But supporters of the plan have argued teachers now have a chance to get to know the students, since they remain at the same school for nine years. Students can have a favorite teacher they can approach and feel safe discussing any issues they may have. Supporters said students get better grades and opportunities for exploratory classes.

Glenewinkel, who came to East Valley in 2008, said he’s proud of increasing the high school graduation rate from 76 percent to 92 percent, increasing test scores and college opportunities for students, and fostering collaboration among the teachers. Plus, “as a general rule, we’ve maintained a sound financial state,” he said.

But he would have liked to see the district pass a capital facilities bond to improve district buildings. East Valley voters have not approved a bond since 1996.

Board member Mitch Jensen voted “absolutely, unequivocally no” on releasing Glenewinkel. Jensen also was the lone vote against installing the district’s current assistant superintendent of general services, Tom Gresch, to serve as interim superintendent.

Glenewinkel, 52, came to East Valley from the Ellensburg School District. While he does not have a plan for his future, he said he hopes to serve as an educator in the state.

“I’m certainly disappointed and feeling a sense of loss,” Glenewinkel said. “But I have to recognize this board has an obligation to move the district forward and I respect that.”

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