Lisa Arnold, the assistant superintendent of the Lakeland Joint School District, has been promoted to be its next leader, the district announced Tuesday.
Arnold, who has worked as a teacher and administrator for 31 years, will take over July 1 for the departing Becky Meyer.
“All of it is a bit surreal,” Arnold said Tuesday afternoon from district headquarters in Rathdrum. “It feels like a normal day at work, but it’s exciting to be able to think about what I want to do moving forward.”
“It also means that I will be able to finish my career being the superintendent and getting to continue the great work of the district,” Arnold said.
A teacher for 12 years, Arnold went on to serve six years as assistant principal and five as principal of Betty Kiefer Elementary School. She has been assistant superintendent for eight years.
Lakeland serves about 5,500 students, yet the position drew only three applicants. One later withdrew and another failed to meet qualifications, leaving Arnold as the only one left when the district began the interview process last week.
“That was disappointing, because this is a great district,” Arnold said. “It would have been nice to go through the process with more candidates.”
Board President Michelle Thompson did not respond Tuesday to an email seeking comment on Arnold and the selection process.
However, Arnold said she was pleased with the reception she received during a three-hour discussion with about 50 community members on Thursday.
“It went really well, and personally I got a lot of personal affirmation,” said Arnold, who added that most of the questions centered on “hot-button issues” such as critical race theory and parental rights.
Arnold said the school board took a “courageous stand” during the COVID-19 pandemic, when Lakeland was the lone major district in the Inland Northwest to hold in-person classes with masks optional.
Arnold cited statistics from the Panhandle Health District showing that the district’s positivity rate was almost identical to that of Coeur d’Alene Schools, which required masks and operated on a hybrid model during the 2020-21 school year.
Arnold said the district is attracting more families to a district “where parental rights are strong.”