Salem-Keizer schools names Christy Perry superintendent

Statesman Journal
By Queenie Wong
May 13, 2014

Christy Perry, a longtime superintendent for the Dallas School District, will lead the second-largest school district in Oregon.

Salem-Keizer School Board members on Tuesday named Perry as the district’s new superintendent. A contract, which starts on July 1, was also unanimously approved.

“It’s a great honor to be selected and I just look forward to the opportunities in this next year,” said Perry, who had tears in her eyes. “We’ll all be in this together.”

Perry succeeds Sandy Husk who announced in October she was resigning to become the chief executive officer of the college readiness program Advancement Via Individual Determination.

Under the approved contract, Perry will earn an annual salary of $189,000 in the 2014-15 school year but will get a pay raise for each extra year. She will start the job making less than Husk did during the beginning of this school year.

The announcement ends a lengthy nationwide search that included two batch of finalists and marathon rounds of interviews.

For some school board members that has meant missing Little League games, rushing to board meetings after delivering babies and working during vacation.

The board hired the search firm Ray and Associates Inc. in January to help find the next superintendent. Members approved a transfer of $48,300 from a contingency fund to pay for the nationwide search, which includes money they would pay to the search firm.

Photo of Christy Perry
WOU Alumni Christy Perry // Photo by Timothy J. Gonzalez

In March, the board named Janet Schulze, assistant superintendent of high schools at the San Francisco Unified School District, and Michael Sorum, deputy superintendent of Leadership, Learning and Student Support Services at the Fort Worth Independent School District, as finalists.

But after hearing from the staff and community, board members decided to not hire either saying that they weren’t the “best fit” for the district.

“It’s awful hard to go out again and we took a lot of time and I appreciate that,” said School Board Chairman Jim Green.

The board then accepted new applications for the job, naming Perry and Corvallis School District Superintendent Erin Prince as finalists in April.

School board members said Tuesday that Perry was the right pick.

“It was just something that spoke to at least me about the value of having someone who has been serving as the superintendent in the state of Oregon,” said Chuck Lee, the district’s vice-chairman.

During public forums, community members raised concerns about the size and diversity of the school districts that the Oregon finalists came from.

The Dallas School District serves 3,177 students, about 83 percent white. The Salem-Keizer School District serves more than 40,000 students and has a growing Hispanic student population.

Perry, who has been the superintendent in the Dallas School District since 2005, told community members that her experience in a smaller district means that she has gone through almost every facet of district operations including passing a bond and budgeting.

She earned her continuing administrator license from Portland State University in 2004. Perry received a master’s degree from Western Oregon University in 1995, and graduated from Western Oregon State College with a bachelor’s degree.

Her departure also means that another Oregon school district will be launching a search for a new superintendent.

Matt Posey, the chairman of the Dallas School District’s board, said members were sad to hear Perry was leaving but excited for her new opportunity.

“She will be leaving our district in a solid position,” he said.

The new superintendent enters the Salem-Keizer School District during improving financial times. In the 2014-15 proposed budget, there’s an extra $9.9 million in revenue that district staff want to use to hire more teachers and counselors, purchase instructional materials and fund a new career and technical education high school for the next school year.

The boost in revenue follows $144 million in budget cuts since 2009, which resulted in layoffs, larger class sizes and furloughs in the district.

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