The Brookings Harbor School District (BHSD) Board has selected Helena Johansson-Chirinian as the district's next superintendent.
“I’m incredibly excited to begin my new role at Brookings-Harbor School District and am very much looking forward to leading the work ahead,” Johansson-Chirinian said.
Johansson-Chirinian’s roots with the school district run deep. Before retiring in June 2021, she served BHSD for 28 years, with 17 years spent in leadership positions. She last served as the principal at Kalmiopsis Elementary School for 12 years.
“The greatest strength we have is the connections we have with each other,” she said. “I’m going to challenge all of us to use those connections to work as a team, so that all out students can grow up to be happy and contributing members of our community.”
Since retirement, Johansson-Chirinian has worked part-time with the school district as a Positive Discipline Coach. The Positive Discipline Association states that positive discipline is a behavioral model that helps create “responsible, respectful, and resourceful relationships” by focusing on the positive points of behavior rather than the negative points.
In a release, the BHSD Board members said they are excited to start working with Helena.
“Helena is deeply connected to our community and has spent years building positive relationships," the release states. "We look forward to working with Helena.
The BHSD board acknowledged the challenges many school districts across the country are currently facing, such as finding qualified educators and school staff.
“Education is experiencing unprecedented times when it comes to finding qualified educators,” the release states. “In particular, this year the percentage of candidates applying for a superintendent position is down by almost 50% nationwide.”
The U.S. Department of Education conducted a national study on school district staffing issues last fall and found the same issues BHSD recognized. In the study, 48% of principals across the country reported that hiring teachers was still a major challenge, and 60% reported that they were struggling to fill non-teaching positions.
To overcome the challenges, the BHSD Board consulted with a superintendent search firm, which recommended to first post the position internally.
“The school board took the time to consult with several well-known superintendent search firms. We knew we had numerous qualified candidates currently working in our school district and were advised to post for the position internally first,” the release reads.
After the position was posted, Johansson-Chirinain was chosen for an interview.
“Helena was interviewed for several hours by a committee that consisted of the school board, administrators, district office staff, classified and certified staff, community members, and parents,” the board said in the press release. “The consensus from the interview committee and the board was unanimous in picking Mrs. Chirinian as out next superintendent.”
According to BHSD Board Chair Alan Nidiffer, the salary range of the superintendent's position is between $130,000 and $150,000.
"We have come to terms within that range and a 3-year contract," he told The Pilot.
Johansson-Chirinian will take office on July 1. She replaces David Marshall who earlier announced his resignation after serving the district for the last three years.
Superintendent Marshall departing
Marshall said that being away from family and being unable to find a home to buy were the two biggest factors for why he’s leaving.
“I think the big driver has been being 500 miles away from family. In our personal case, we also weren’t able to find a house to buy,” Marshall said. “So those two things really were the two main drivers. It was a very personal decision.”
Marshall took over the position on June 22, 2020, after the school board voted to bring him on earlier than planned because of the many challenges related to COVID-19. Previously, he worked as the assistant superintendent/human resources director at Hermiston School District in Hermiston and also spent seven years as the assistant superintendent for the Milton-Freewater School District.
While he called the type of work school districts engage in “forever work,” Marshall believes he is leaving the district in good hands.
“Folks came together. I learned a lot. I’d like to believe that in the critical, core areas I’m leaving the district in a good place,” Marshall said. “We’re in a stronger financial situation. We’ve got some solid foundations laid to promote learning success.”
Marshall’s last day as Superintendent will be June 30. He says he is committed to making the transition for Brookings-Harbor School District as smooth as possible.
Follow the Brookings-Harbor School District’s superintendent transition at currypilot.com and in the printed editions of The Pilot.
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