By Eric Stevick Herald Writer
GRANITE FALLS — Joel Thaut, in his sixth year as superintendent of the Granite Falls School District, announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of the school year.
The search for a new leader in the district of 2,300 students will begin Nov. 14 with a forum to gather input from parents, local residents and business and civic leaders about the qualities they want in a new superintendent.
Thaut, 55, said he will likely move south, perhaps to California. He leaves open the possibility he could work again in education or for a nonprofit group, but in a position with fewer time demands and responsibilities.
“I really just have to stop for a while and see what it is I want to do,” he said. “This is more of a lifestyle change. This job is very demanding.”
Thaut visited several schools Thursday, telling staff about his decision.
Thaut grew up in Snohomish County and graduated from Snohomish High School in 1970, taught social studies in Lake Stevens for several years and was a high school assistant principal and principal in Sultan for eight years. He later became superintendent of the Eastmont School District in East Wenatchee before being hired in Granite Falls.
Between now and his last day in June, Thaut will get to watch a new Granite Falls High School open.
The $40 million campus is scheduled to open in January with an initial enrollment of 800. The school with a full view of Mount Pilchuck is being built so it can accommodate 1,200. It includes 38 classrooms, a performing arts center that will seat 400, a manufacturing lab, five science labs and a greenhouse as well as business and library technology labs.
“It’s stunning,” Thaut said. “It’s an absolutely beautiful building.”
Thaut said he will miss the people he works with most in his retirement.
“I worked with bright talented people who inspire me every day and, of course, you get to work with kids every day. How can it get better than that?”
A community forum is set for 7 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Granite Falls Middle School commons, 205 N. Alder Ave., to get public feedback in the search for Thaut’s replacement. The school board has hired Wayne Robertson, a former Lakewood and Edmonds superintendent, to help in the search.
Robertson was a lead consultant when the district hired high school principal Eric Cahan two years ago.
The district expects to name finalists for the job in late January and staff and local residents will get to meet and ask questions of the candidates. A new superintendent is expected to be named by mid-February and take over in July.