Deborah Rumbaugh chosen to lead Stanwood schools

The Highline School District administrator will succeed Superintendent Jean Shumate, who retires next month.

Deborah Rumbaugh, an assistant superintendent of the Highline School District in King County, was selected to be the next superintendent of the Stanwood-Camano School District. (Stanwood-Camano School District)

Deborah Rumbaugh, an assistant superintendent of the Highline School District in King County, was selected to be the next superintendent of the Stanwood-Camano School District. (Stanwood-Camano School District)

STANWOOD — Deborah Rumbaugh, an assistant superintendent of the Highline School District in King County, was selected Friday to be the next superintendent of the Stanwood-Camano School District.

The district board voted unanimously during a special meeting early Friday to hire Rumbaugh to lead the 4,400-student district.

Rumbaugh would grasp the leadership reins July 1 if she and the district can reach agreement on a contract.

“I feel we’ve chosen the one that is the very best fit for our district,” board member Ken Christoferson said prior to the decision.

Rumbaugh is to succeed Superintendent Jean Shumate, who is retiring next month after guiding the district for two decades. Shumate is the longest-tenured public schools superintendent in Snohomish County.

“I am humbled and elated to take this next step,” Rumbaugh said Friday. “As my husband and I were looking for a good place personal and professionally, Stanwood-Camano just drew us in. You can really tell it is a community that is tight-knit and cares about one another.”

Rumbaugh, 51, is a Tacoma native who grew up in Bellevue and is a product of Bellevue public schools. Her husband, Wayne, is a high school teacher in the Auburn School District. He grew up in Marysville, attended Everett Community College and taught two years in the Marysville School District, according to an online biography. The couple have nine grown children.

At the outset, there were 23 candidates for the job. Rumbaugh, along with Jay Jordan, an assistant superintendent of Bellingham School District, and John Boyd, superintendent of the Quincy School District, emerged as finalists and each spent a day in the district this past week.

During those visits, each met with employee groups and took part in virtual community forums. Each also met behind closed doors with the school board for additional interviewing.

The board reached consensus on a choice in executive session Thursday.

It was “very fun to make that phone call last night,” said board President Natalie Hagglund.

Rumbaugh is executive director of instructional leadership in the Highline School District. She is also the area supervisor of secondary schools, which is equivalent to an assistant superintendent post. She’s worked for the district since 2013. She served as principal of Pacific Middle School and executive director of human resources prior to her current role.

She worked in the Auburn School District from 2003 to 2010 as a science teacher and dean of students, then as assistant principal of Kentwood High School in the Kent School District from 2010 to 2013.

Rumbaugh will oversee a district that operates 10 schools: five elementaries, three middle schools and two high schools.

This week, state Department of Health officials said districts must plan to return to full-time, in-person instruction in all grades next school year. Rumbaugh said ensuring a safe reopening in the fall will be the most important priority.

Beyond that, she said, her top goal is “listening to the community and building relationships and trust as a new leader.”

Reporter Jerry Cornfield:; @dospueblos.

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