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School district goes north to Alaska for assistant superintendent

"Daniel BlantonSouth Whidbey will have a new assistant superintendent of schools beginning July 1.After interviewing six candidates, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Martin Laster chose someone he knows well. That is Daniel C. Blanton who presently is principal of Talkeema Elementary School in Palmer, Alaska.Laster too has experience in Alaska, where he spent several years as an administrator and superintendent. He worked with Blanton and is happy to have him at South Whidbey.Five years ago I was superintendent and he was principal, said Laster, who came to South Whidbey one year ago after heading the Darrington School District for four years. He's very student-centered and a hard worker. He takes on tough issues but works on consensus. He's a good person.At South Whidbey, Blanton will receive about $84,000 annually, Laster said. South Whidbey has been without an assistant superintendent for two years, since Carol Andreasen left to head the Port Townsend School District. South Whidbey had budget concerns at the time and didn't replace her immediately.Blanton holds a masters of education degree and has been a principal in both Alaska and Oregon, as well as a teacher. He visited South Whidbey on Thursday and said he likes living in Alaska, but was looking forward to working again with Laster.He's a really good match in terms of the programs we have, Laster said. Blanton's primary duties will involve curriculum and instruction, as well as testing and assessment and serving as a hearing office for union issues. Laster provided the school board with a list of comparable sized school districts that have assistant superintendents, such as Mount Baker, Lynden, Lakewood and Lynden, earning about the same as Blanton will receive.Jim Adsley, school board president, said the board has long planned to fill the vacancy of assistant superintendent. The superintendent candidates interviewed last year, including Laster, were told there would be one. Laster worked for nearly a year before taking the board up on its offer.Marty (Laster) felt he needed one, there's more work than he can handle, Adsley said. We pretty much went with his request. The interviewing was left entirely to Laster because the position answers directly to him.By adding Blanton, Adsley said, principals who have been handling other tasks can spend more time in their schools. For example, Doug Hale, intermediate school principal, headed the math curriculum adoption effort. This makes others more productive in their buildings. That's a major rationale for the decision, Adsley said.The school board hopes to be hiring more teachers as well as the new administrator, because of the class-size reduction money that came with voter approval of Initiative 728. Exactly how much money will be available will not be known until the Legislature adjourns. "

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