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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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West Valley superintendent Smith steps down

West Valley Superintendent Dave Smith is moving on.

The 15-year veteran will take a new role in the district in 2005, passing on his superintendent duties and turning full time to the management of the high school renovation.

“I’m excited. It’s been a great ride,” he said Tuesday. “I’m going to see to it that we have a wonderful building.”

School board members will discuss plans for selecting a new superintendent at their June 23 board meeting.

“Dave has been a great superintendent for the district,” said board President Bob Dompier. “We hate to see him leave that position. Still, spending this bond money is going to be a very important job over the next three years.”

The district’s voters approved a $35 million construction bond in May. The money gathered will be used to completely renovate the high school, which is more than 40 years old, build new classrooms at each of the district’s four elementary schools and complete maintenance projects at the district’s two middle schools.

State law requires the district to hire a manager for the project. Smith said he will negotiate a new salary with the school board.

Smith, 58, joined the West Valley School District in 1989. Before moving to the Spokane Valley, he served five years as superintendent of the Newport School District. Before that, Smith was a principal and teacher in a number of Montana schools.

Smith was born and raised in Libby, Mont. He is married, has three children and holds a doctoral degree in educational leadership from Gonzaga University.

At West Valley, Smith made his mark by building innovative programs to attract students to the small district. During his tenure, the district’s leaders started an outdoor learning center and City School, a middle school designed to nurture students’ entrepreneurial drive by assigning them jobs in a simulated city.

“The superintendent has the formal authority to get behind those projects and make them happen,” Smith said.

He worked with the business manager to pull the district’s fund balance up from about $100,000 in 1989 to about $1.7 million today.

Smith pointed out that he was able to save money without making deep budget cuts. In fact, the district will be hiring new reading specialists and special education teachers this year. “The district is really sound” financially, he said.

Smith said he is proud of the relationship he’s built with the community and the school board.

He said he’s pleased with the structure of the administrative team, which allows him to delegate many of the district’s day-to-day operations to the two assistant superintendents, Polly Crowley and Doug Matson.

He said he wanted to leave the district in good shape with a number of projects completed, including redrawing elementary school boundaries and moving principals to buildings where he felt they would flourish. Smith finished both projects this spring.

He also managed to persuade voters in May to pass the largest construction bond in the district’s history. “I’m still amazed by it,” he said, adding that he was impressed by “that kind of support in a time of economic uncertainty.”

Just one year before, West Valley voters had rejected a technology levy and a maintenance and operations levy.

Smith completely revamped the district’s election strategy and voters subsequently passed both measures.

Smith said he expects to retire when the current construction projects are completed.

In the meantime, he has already started working on a construction newsletter, which he plans to send to patrons every six weeks.

“I want this community to know what is happening on the project,” he said.

“When the project is complete, and the ribbon is cut, I want them to be there and feel like they were a part of it.”

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