District selects ‘Kip’ to succeed retiring Cowan as the new superintendent
Auburn School District’s board of directors on Tuesday chose Deputy Superintendent Dr. Dennis “Kip” Herren as the district’s new superintendent, succeeding the retiring Linda Cowan.
Directors met in closed-door session after their regular meeting Tuesday then in open session chose Herren over District Associate Superintendent Mike Newman.
Board members said both finalists were especially strong candidates with unique skills, Newman a financial whiz and Herren an expert in curricula. But Herren’s vision for the future impressed them. The third finalist, Elaine Barza, withdrew her name from consideration last week.
“I feel that this school district needs to move up to the next level … and Dr. Herren has the skills and qualities necessary to take us there,” said board member Ray Vefik.
Contacted at home after receiving the call he had hoped for from board president Craig Schumaker, Herren said, “I am on top of the world. My first call was to my mother, then I called my kids to let them know.”
Herren added that he was humbled by the selection and looked forward to getting to work.
Herren came to Auburn in 1979 from East Wenatchee Junior High School, and for the next 10 years taught economics, history and physical education at Auburn High School. In 1989, he became AHS’ dean of students. He served as the school’s assistant principal from 1990 to 1992 and its principal from 1992 to 1997. From 1997 to 2001 he was assistant superintendent of the district. In 2001, he was named deputy superintendent with overall responsibility for curriculum instruction and assessment and for supervision over principals.
Herren earned his doctorate in education from Seattle University in 1992.
A childhood polio victim, Herren also wrestled in high school in California and at San Francisco State. He was head wrestling coach at Auburn for 13 years, and his teams finished in the top 10 nine times in his 13 years. He was elected “AAA” Coach of the Year in 1986.
Former AHS wrestling coach Gene Cerino, who helped bring Herren to the district in 1979, said Herren will bring special qualities to the position.
“I think we are going to enter a new era,” Cerino said. “I think that Kip is an excellent listener and will be available for anybody that has comments on the need for changes in the district. I think he’s a proven leader and really has his hand on the pulse of Auburn.”
The current compensation for the superintendent is $189,663. The school board and Herren, 57, will wrap up their contract negotiations before July 1.
There is no mandatory retirement age for superintendent.
Cowan said the district could fill Herren’s current position by promoting from within or it could open up the process as it does when it hires a teacher or principal.
Cowan said she was proud that both Newman and Herren were officials of the Auburn School District. A third finalist from outside the district dropped out of contention last week.
“I think it speaks highly of the talent that we have in the school district, and that we are known so well for that fact likely caused some people to choose not to apply because we have such internal strength,” Cowan said.