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School board chooses Laster as new Superintendent

"By JIM LARSENRecord editorOnce all the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed on the contract, South Whidbey will have a new superintendent of schools: Dr. Martin Laster, who since 1996 has headed the Darrington School District.The school board made the choice after site visits Wednesday to Bellingham and Darrington to talk to the two finalists to replace outgoing Dr. Lisa Bjork.In Bellingham, the board met with Greg Cowan.Board President Jim Adsley said Friday that in both locations they talked to the candidates, school employees, union leaders and community leaders. I don't think we missed anyone, he said.And while both candidates received high marks, the consensus among the board members was that Laster was the best fit for South Whidbey, according to Adsley.Adsley was impressed that Laster had built up a reserve fund in Darrington while always finding a way to meet the needs of his district. He's a real collaborator, Adsley said. A good team builder. And with seven years' experience as a superintendent, he's already walked the walk.Adsley also noted that the community seemed extremely fond of Laster, and sad that he might be leaving. It wasn't just a positive response, there was heavy emotion . . . some were almost breaking down because they didn't want this guy to go.Laster, contacted Friday in Darrington, admitted it will be hard to leave the rural community once famous as a timber center but which has struggled with the decline of the logging industry. It's been a fabulous four years, he said. He had not yet publicly announced he was taking the South Whidbey job because he had not yet reached all of the Darrington school board members.But Laster was looking forward to South Whidbey, where he will head a school district several times the size of Darrington. I'm very exited about it, he said. He said someone encouraged him to apply for the position, so he started looking at the community. The more I looked the more I saw incredible opportunities in so many areas, he said, citing South Whidbey's cultural, artistic and natural attractions. Moonraker is a terrific bookstore, he added.On Monday, Laster and his wife Jonna and their children, Ian, 11, and Katlyn, 8, will meet the South Whidbey public following a short school board meeting that begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Intermediate School Community Room.Public welcome to meet Martin LasterThe South Whidbey public is welcome to meet the new superintendent of schools, Dr. Martin Laster, at a reception Monday, June 12. The school board will meet at 7:30 p.m. in the Intermediate School Community Room to formally approve the contract for the new superintendent, and the reception will follow.Board President Jim Adsley thanked the school staff, parents and community members who helped in the selection process. We hope you will be able to attend the meeting and greet the new superintendent, he said."

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