Community meets first ‘super’ finalist

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SANDPOINT — Coming from a family of educators and a long-time educator himself, it is no mystery why Paul Peterson was chosen as one of three finalists for the Lake Pend Oreille School District’s superintendent position.

Currently serving as the superintendent of the Scappoose School District in Oregon, Peterson said he applied for the LPOSD position because he is “ready for the next challenge.”

“The timing was right,” Peterson said of coming across the job listing. “... It seems like you’ve got a pretty good school district operation going on — it sounds like things are going well right now. Some superintendents want to come in and fix what was broken and be the hero, I’m not interested in that. I want to be part of something that is already great, that I can continue the traditions that have worked so well for kids and generations that have come through these schools. That’s why I want to be here.”

The first community/parent “Meet the Candidate” forum on Monday, moderated by Kendon Perry, featured Peterson. The community will have the opportunity to meet the other two candidates today and Wednesday as well. Peterson, Dr. Paula Vincent of Sagle and Tom Albertson of Sandpoint were chosen as finalists by LPOSD board members. Each finalist is facing a full day of stakeholder meetings before dinner and an official interview with the board in the evening. The board will convene in executive session Thursday morning to deliberate and make a decision.

Originally from Ferndale, Wash., Peterson has served as the superintendent of the Scappoose School District for the past year, and was also the district’s superintendent from 2006-2011. From 2011-2018, he was the assistant superintendent for the Northwest Regional Education Service District in Hillsboro, Ore. He has spent time as a high school English teacher, principal and director of finance and operations among other positions as well.

Peterson holds an educational leadership degree from George Fox University, as well as a master’s degree in education administration from Heritage University, and a bachelor’s degree in English from Washington State University.

Peterson is married with two kids — a son who graduated from high school this year and a daughter going into her sophomore year.

His resume and other information can be found on his website at

In answering questions posed by Perry, Peterson outlined accomplishments under his leadership, which he said could not have been done without working together with the community.

“Nothing I do is going to be accomplished unless we do it together,” he said.

One example, he said, was the formation of a strategic plan to outline what the community expected graduates to know, and what they needed from the schools to be successful. Social-emotional learning, family engagement and career-technical education were at the top of the list among the community members involved in the planning process, he said.

Peterson answered each of the questions in the allotted 45 minutes, before leaving to allow Perry a chance to get feedback from the small handful of community members who attended the forum. As for strengths, Peterson’s experience, knowledge, honesty topped the list, as well as the fact that he seemed “very approachable.” Concerns primarily focused on the limited meeting time for Peterson to outline his vision of what he would like to see and do for the district, as well as that he is not from the area, and Idaho differs from other states in how schools are funded, among other issues.

Today, Vincent gets her turn to spend the day meeting with stakeholders and the board. The community/parent forum is open to the public from 1:30-2:15 p.m. in the Sandpoint High School commons. Albertson will meet at the same time and place on Wednesday.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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