West Valley School District Deputy Superintendent Doug Matson has announced he plans to retire at the end of the school year, bringing his 31 years career with the district to a close.
He joins West Valley Superintendent Gene Sementi, who also recently announced his retirement after 31 years with the district. The school board has already voted to promote assistant superintendent Kyle Rydell to replace Sementi.
Matson said he’s enjoyed his career.
“Retirement seemed so far away and now it’s here,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Matson grew up in Newport, Washington, and attended Spokane Community College before graduating from Eastern Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He would later earn a master’s degree in business administration from Gonzaga University and a superintendent certificate from Washington State University.
After his graduation from EWU, he worked for four years at a CPA firm in Walla Walla, but he wanted to come home.
He took a job as a business manager with the Newport School District, where he worked under Superintendent Dave Smith. When Smith moved to West Valley in 1989, Matson followed shortly after.
“Newport is a smaller district, and there were only so many opportunities to grow,” Matson said.
The duo seemed to specialize in reviving financially troubled school districts. Newport was having financial difficulties, and Matson and Smith had it out of the red by the time they left, Matson said. Similarly, West Valley was having money troubles when they started, and they worked hard to put the district on a solid financial footing.
“It’s difficult,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to run in the black and be fiscally responsible. Sometimes that’s hard when the state budget doesn’t match.”
During his career, Matson collected a trove of sports memorabilia in his office. Though he has ties to many local universities, he is a diehard Eastern Eagles fan. Signed pictures and posters of EWU players and teams hang on the walls, joined by a signed photo of Gonzaga University basketball player Adam Morrison.
“Your office is where you spend the most time, other than home,” Matson said. “I went to a few auctions where they had sports stuff.”
Matson found the opportunities to grow at West Valley. Over the years he was promoted from business manager to assistant superintendent to deputy superintendent. He also served as the technology director for a while. Matson said he likes the personal touch he sees in the district.
“I’ve had the opportunity to get involved in a lot of different areas and learn and grow,” he said. “I like the size of West Valley. We’re big enough to do a lot of things but not so big you’re just a number.”
Matson wears many hats as deputy superintendent. He’s in charge of transportation, food service, technology and special education. His knowledge of the district’s budget and statewide budgeting issues is unmatched. He’s the two-time past president of the Washington Association of School Business Officials and a member of the State Safety Net Committee for Special Education.
The district plans to hire a director of business instead of a new deputy superintendent to replace Matson. His other duties will be allocated to different people within the district, Matson said.
“We’re reorganizing the business office,” he said.
This year seemed like the right time to retire, Matson said. His three children are grown, and he and his wife of 22 years, Alisa, are looking forward to his retirement.
“We want to do some traveling,” he said. “Now is the time to do that. I’ve been a big Eastern fan, so we’re going to follow the team and go to some away games.”
Matson plans to pack up his sports memorabilia and his complete collection of Taco Time Looney Tunes glasses by June 30. Until then he’s working on a transition plan to make sure his duties are handed off smoothly. When the last box is loaded in his car, and he shuts his office door for the last time, Matson said he will miss the people he works with and miss visiting the schools to spend time with students.
“I’ve always had a soft spot for special education,” he said. “There’s a group of kids I would take to Chuck E. Cheese every year.”
District spokeswoman Sue Shields said the district would miss Matson.
“He’s made an impact for sure,” she said.
Matson said he will continue to live in the district and said it’s likely that he’ll find some way to stay involved.
“I’m sure I’ll volunteer in some areas,” he said. “I don’t want to just retire and sit at home.”
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