SANDPOINT — After an extensive nationwide search for the Lake Pend Oreille School District’s next superintendent, it was Sandpoint’s own Tom Albertson who ultimately reined in the position.
Between three qualified finalists who met with stakeholder groups and district officials this week, LPOSD board members voted unanimously on Thursday to offer the 32-year LPOSD educator and administrator the job.
“I think we made a good choice,” said LPOSD board chair Cary Kelly. “We had three really good candidates. But in the final analysis, Tom has such a history here, and such a familiarity with the school district and the people here and the culture here — he is so well thought of, and I think that really gave him the edge.”
Albertson will succeed Shawn Woodward, who is stepping down from the position at the end of the month to take on a new challenge as superintendent of the Mead School District. Albertson will transition from Sandpoint High School principal to the LPOSD superintendent position on July 1.
“I am honored and humbled that the school board has entrusted me to lead the school district as the next superintendent,” Albertson said.
It will be a “learning curve,” Albertson said, so he will immediately begin working with Woodward on a transition plan. His first order of business as superintendent, however, will be to find his own replacement at SHS. A job announcement for the SHS principal will be up immediately and the application process will remain open for two weeks to applicants in and out of district, he said.
“From there I am just looking forward to building a relationship with the school board and getting that working relationship started, and acclimating to a new set of awesome employees over at the district office, and learning from them as much as they are going to learn from me,” he said.
Born and raised in Sandpoint, Albertson said his grandfather came to the area and purchased his family’s cattle ranch in 1916. Now his grandkids are the fifth generation raised in Sandpoint, he said, and two of them are attending or will attend Northside Elementary, where he went to school as a child.
Albertson has 10 years of administrative experience, the last five of those as the principal at SHS. He was the school’s assistant principal for five years before that, and served as the athletic director as well. Prior to becoming an administrator, Albertson was a math teacher for 22 years. He holds an educational specialist degree, a master’s degree in educational leadership, and a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from the University of Idaho.
To assist with the search for a superintendent, LPOSD officials recently retained the services of consultants with McPherson and Jacobson, LLC, who ultimately reviewed, screened, and conducted background checks on 27 qualified applicants. LPOSD board members narrowed the applications down to the three finalists last week.
LPOSD co-chair Geraldine Lewis said it was a healthy process, as they went through the three days of “intensive” interviews followed by a lot of discussion between the board members before making the final decision. Out of the three finalists, Albertson was the only candidate who did not have a background as a superintendent. However, Kelly said because Albertson has been in the district for 32 years as a teacher and administrator, he has been involved in many of the issues that come up at the district level, including budget and levy requirements among others.
“He has such a wealth of knowledge and everybody feels so comfortable with him, that’s really what it boiled down to,” Kelly said. “He has great support from the stakeholders ... All in all, he was the best choice.”
“This morning, we just felt we came to the right decision — what’s best for the district, for out students and the direction we are headed,” added Lewis. “We are very excited about Tom Albertson in the superintendent role. He is poised to really take this district exactly where we are wanting to go.”
Mary Malone can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.