Dan Schlotfeldt Named Superintendent of Snoqualmie Valley Schools

The Snoqualmie Valley School District Board of Directors unanimously selected Dan Schlotfeldt as the district’s permanent superintendent during its regular board meeting Thursday, February 16th.

Schlotfeldt led the district this school year as the interim superintendent for five months after Dr. Gibbon was placed on administrative leave in September. 

“This process was critical for us as Board members serving our community to make sure we have the right individual to lead our district,” SVSD Board President Melissa Johnson said. “Mr. Schlotfeldt has routinely demonstrated incredible leadership with an emphasis on student learning. It feels like he’s been interviewing for this job for the last 27 years.”

Living Snoqualmie asked SVSD board President Johnson a few questions about Schlotfeldt’s selection on Friday, February 17th, after the announcement at the School Board meeting the previous evening.

Question: Why didn’t the district choose to open the search to at least have another candidate or two to choose from? 

Answer: This process was conducted to assess whether we needed to expend the funds and the time to activate a national search. It was also done to assess the state of the district (strengths and weaknesses) as we approach a five-year update to our strategic plan.   

According to an SVSD press memo, in January, the Board hired the services of GR Recruiting to conduct a thorough and extensive review of the district and its leadership. Over 800 survey responses were collected, and 15 focus groups were conducted. Dr. Jim Hager from GR Recruiting presented the findings to the Board during its February 16th meeting. The survey results are available for public viewing

Question: Some think it seems the decision was already made and everything else, like the survey, was pointless. Thoughts on that?

Answer: This board has a track record of being fiscally conservative. We would not have kept Dan in the role as Interim for the past four months or hired a consultant to take us through this process if we had already made a decision.  

As most are aware, we are required to and do make all our decisions in public, not behind closed doors. Although we were very pleased with the work Dan has been doing as an interim superintendent, we decided as a board to hire an independent consultant, GR Recruiting, to help us gather information that would help us determine next steps, which could have resulted in us deciding to do an extensive, expensive national search. 

Thankfully, the result showed strong support for our mission and vision and strong support for Dan as our permanent superintendent. It also helped us identify areas of strengths and weaknesses which will be extraordinarily helpful in our strategic plan update process this spring.

Question: There have been complaints about the survey saying it wasn’t in-depth enough and had no room for any input on specifics. There were no other choices besides Dan for the role, so did the survey have much impact on the hiring process?

Answer: The survey is one used nationally with over 400 school districts, including many locally. It has the ability to define characteristics of leadership desired by the community, and that is why we chose GR Recruiting (and K12 Insight for the survey) because that is what we needed to assess. We were then able to compare the community’s desired characteristics with those that Dan exhibits. 

No matter our process, we will always have distractors. We chose professionals to help us with the process and help inform us to make a good decision as to next steps. Those who differ with the process need to understand that we didn’t make up the questions or the timing. They are the standard used nationally. 

This Board has a strong history of focusing on the student, the classroom, and teaching and learning, said SVSD Board member Carolyn Simpson in the press memo statement. “The information we heard tonight (February 16th board meeting) not only showed tremendous support of Mr. Schlotfeldt but that he aligns with our district’s vision and its mission.”

Question: If Dan was ok with this track, why did he not apply for, or was not considered, for the position when it became open after Superintendent Manahan?

Answer: It was simply not the right time, and Dan was committed to supporting our principals and teachers on a different level as we moved out of the pandemic.     

The SVSD memo stated that before becoming interim superintendent, Schlotfeldt had served the Snoqualmie Valley School District for 27 years, most recently as an assistant superintendent of Teaching and Learning, as well as other administrative roles, as principal of Fall City Elementary and as a teacher. He has extensive leadership experience and knowledge of the district and has demonstrated a strong focus on student learning. In addition, he’s cultivated strong relationships with students, parents, staff, and the community. 

A native of Grandview, Wash., and a lifelong learner, Schlotfeldt earned his teaching degree from Central Washington University and started teaching in SVSD in 1994. Schlotfeldt earned his master’s in Instructional Technology in 1998 before returning to Central Washington to receive his principal certificate in 2004. Seven years later, Schlotfeldt received his Superintendent Certificate from Washington State University. 

Question: Previous Superintendent searches have been much longer than this one. What has Dan done to show leadership? Has he made any steps toward changes that made him the right choice for the board?

Answer: Over his 27 years with the district and 12 years with our longest-serving board members, Dan has shown exceptional leadership skills and a student-first mentality. He is collaborative, kind, and strong and has significant support from the staff. He believes in professional development to advance our staff’s learning and results. 

A couple recent examples include leading the Science of Literacy work, which helps close the gaps for our students most in need and championing the need for a focus on Social Emotional Supports, Mental Health, and Multilingual support. In addition, Dan has shown capabilities of making strong, difficult decisions. Like I reiterated during the board meeting, it is like he has been preparing for and interviewing for this job for 27 years. He is the right person at the right time for SVSD!

Schlotfeldt shared that he is excited about this opportunity to lead the district, centered around student learning and making data-informed decisions with a collaborative approach toward improvements. He also values the feedback from the survey and focus groups to help drive his efforts and goals for the district.

By strengthening the partnership between our schools and the communities they serve, he looks forward to building upon the solid foundation for offering every Snoqualmie Valley child the quality education they deserve and the support they need to thrive.

*Note: Living Snoqualmie still has outstanding Public Records Requests with the Snoqualmie Valley School District and will update stories when they are received as necessary.

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