EVERETT — Ian Saltzman will be the new superintendent of Everett Public Schools.
The school board made the unanimous decision after a marathon of interviews with students, teachers and principals on Wednesday, and after nearly four hours of deliberation on Thursday.
Since 2016, Saltzman has been the south region superintendent of The School District of Palm Beach County in Florida, where he oversaw 59 schools.
“In addition to having experience leading a large district and showing great school academic improvements, Dr. Saltzman is a relationship builder,” Board President Carol Andrews said in a statement. “He is strongly committed to a ‘student first’ philosophy and has an energy and passion we were looking for in our new superintendent.”
He was picked from a pool of 35 candidates. Two other candidates also made the finals: Gabriella Duran-Blakey, of Albuquerque Public Schools in New Mexico; and Steve Thompson, of Ohio’s Willoughby-Eastlake School District in Ohio.
Starting this summer, Saltzman will take the reins of a district with 20,000 students and 2,400 employees. He’s replacing Superintendent Gary Cohn, who intends to retire this summer after leading the district for a decade. His contract remained under negotation Thursday.
Up until now, Saltzman has spent his entire 29-year career in Palm Beach County. He started as a middle school teacher and went on to become principal at four different schools — from elementary to high school. He continued to climb the ranks before being named regional superintendent.
He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in special education from Florida State University, as well as specialists and doctorate degrees in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University in Florida.
Talking to students at district headquarters Wednesday, Saltzman said he cared about student morale. When he was principal, that meant pep rallies and football games. He said he went to every Friday night game, and during assemblies he subjected himself to dunk tanks.
He’ll have to consider bigger issues than dunk tanks, though. Students grilled him on a host of concerns, including overcrowding, mental health and diversity among teachers and staff.
With changes to district boundary lines, three high schools will be full — Everett, Cascade and Henry M. Jackson — and relief in the form of a new campus appears years away.
Some of those questions will have to wait until he can assess the situation and talk to people, he said. He suggested that he would work with the human resources department to come up with a strategy to promote diversity.
Saltzman told students that he wants to see everyone succeed, no matter their background, and whether that means going to college, into the trades or something else.
He recalled having to overcome his own challenges. He was born with cerebral palsy, but went on to be the state high school wrestling champion, he said. And even though he wasn’t a very good student in high school, he confided, he went on to have a long career in education.
The board and Saltzman are finalizing an agreement, which will be considered at a public meeting. He is expected to begin work in July.