McDuffy’s tenure as leader of Edmonds schools to end in 2020

After nearly 40 years in education, the superintendent says she’ll retire after the next school year.

Kristine McDuffy (Edmonds School District)

Kristine McDuffy (Edmonds School District)

EDMONDS — Superintendent Kristine McDuffy will spend one more year at the helm of Edmonds public schools and then retire to spend more time with family.

McDuffy informed the district’s Board of Directors on Aug. 1 that she intends to step down June 30, 2020. She told directors she wanted to provide them ample time to find a successor.

In a letter to directors, McDuffy said she was “proud of the work we have accomplished and the work we have underway. There is much important work ahead this school year and I can assure you that I will be giving it my utmost attention, leadership skills and care.”

She shared her announcement with district employees the same day.

“This was a very tough decision but after serving 37 wonderful years in public education — 17 as a superintendent, it is time,” she wrote in an email. “It’s been an honor to serve alongside such dedicated, caring professionals.”

McDuffy took the reins at Edmonds in July 2016, following eight years as superintendent of the Arlington School District. She is the Edmonds district’s second female superintendent.

“Superintendent McDuffy has been an exceptional leader in advancing the district’s equity work along with implementing student learning initiatives,” said Diana White, president of the school board.

“Her work ethic and visibility in the schools and community are unparalleled.”

Andi Nofziger-Meadows, president of the Edmonds Education Association which is the teachers union, said McDuffy’s lengthy tenure in public education “is something to be honored and celebrated.”

“We wish Dr. McDuffy all the best in her upcoming retirement,” Nofziger-Meadows said in an email. “We also appreciate her early notice to the School Board so that we can have a comprehensive, thoughtful process to hire our next Superintendent.”

With an enrollment of 20,299 students, Edmonds is the county’s largest school district. It has an annual operating budget of $321.6 million.

This spring, with a looming $17.7 million shortfall in next year’s budget, McDuffy recommended laying off roughly three dozen full- and part-time teachers and shaving spending out of the materials, supplies and operations budget to help close the gap.

Teachers strongly opposed the approach. And it divided directors though her proposal eventually passed on a 3-2 vote.

McDuffy said Monday that episode and the prospect of future financial challenges did not factor into her announcement.

“Although this past year was extremely difficult and it was sad to have members of our team impacted, my decision to retire was simply based on prioritizing family first,” she said. “We look forward to the next chapter in our life.”

McDuffy is a 1977 graduate of Everett High School. She met Rob McDuffy, who would become her husband, while both were attending what was then called South Junior High School in Everett. The couple have one son.

She began her career in public education in 1983 as a teacher in the Shoreline School District, according to her resume. She then worked as a principal for nine years in the Lakewood School District before being chosen as the district’s superintendent.

After a five-year stint in that role, she went to work for Western Washington University as an administrator in its education department.

The Arlington School District hired her in 2008.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald Twitter: @dospueblos.

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