Superintendent: Columbia Gorge ESD, The Dalles, Oregon



Administrative Position Posting

Position Title: Superintendent

Closing Date for Applications: March 31, 2017

Employment Begins: July 1, 2017

About the Position and the District

The Columbia Gorge Education Service District is seeking a full-time superintendent to replace Milt Dennison who has been serving as the interim superintendent since September 2016.  While the interim superintendent serves on a half-time basis, the prior full-time superintendent, Gary Peterson, served for nine years. The board desires a full time superintendent to continue its successful development of local programs and regional initiatives.  

The ESD serves the Hood River, North Wasco, Dufur, and South Wasco School Districts in Wasco and Hood River Counties from its offices in The Dalles and focuses its services around core and contracted services in the areas of special education, school improvement, technology and special programs.

The ESD operates with a small, close-knit, highly-qualified and experienced staff who enjoy the opportunity to serve a diverse clientele.  The ESD is known for its spirit of collaboration and commitment to high quality performance in the community. The Board is a strong advocate for the various programs offered by the ESD and works as an effective and collaborative team.  

The Columbia Gorge ESD, which serves a student population of 9,834 students, has thirty-five staff members and a budget of $6.75 million.  Additional information can be found on the district website at

District and Mission Goals

The mission of Columbia Gorge Education Service District is to assist Hood River and Wasco County school districts and the Department of Education in achieving Oregon’s educational goals by providing equitable, high quality, cost-effective, and locally responsive educational services at a regional level.

In fulfillment of this mission, the Board of the ESD will establish policy, employ staff and dedicate resources to achieve the following goals:

1.    Assist component school districts in meeting the requirements of state and federal law;
2.    Improve student learning;
3.    Enhance the quality of instruction provided to students;
4.    Provide professional development to component school district employees;
5.    Enable component school districts and students who attend in those districts to have equitable access to resources; and
6.    Maximize operational and fiscal efficiencies for component school districts.
7.    Provide superior leadership and service in improving schools on a regional level.
8.    Partner and collaborate with educational, social service, health care, and governmental agencies.

About the Region

The entire area covered by CGESD is considered one of Oregon’s most desirable locations with its combination of scenic beauty, rural lifestyle, recreational opportunities, and proximity to Portland. The Columbia Gorge is one of the most beautiful settings in the world.  

Much of the population in the two counties is located near I-84 along the Columbia River and portions of Hood River County encompass the Mt. Hood area while portions of Wasco County go south to Maupin, a tourist destination on the Deschutes River famous for fishing and rafting.  The area encompassed by the ESD is also gaining prominence for its vineyards and wineries.  

Wasco County also has a strong agricultural economy based upon the production of grain, livestock, and fruit.  When it was created in 1854, Wasco was the largest county in the United States at 130,000 square miles and stretched east to the Rocky Mountains.  About a decade later Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana became independent entities.

Wasco County, with a population of about 23,500, is the larger of the two counties. Major points of interest include the Fort Dalles Museum, Columbia River Discovery Center and other historic points of interest.  Near The Dalles were the Celilo Falls, an Indian treasure lost when The Dalles Dam was constructed.  

Recreational attractions in Hood River County have contributed to its growing reputation as an upscale destination for both new residents and weekend visitors.  With a current population of about 22,500, the area is a center for apples, pears, and cherries, and features the famous Fruit Loop.

Situated between Mt. Hood and the Columbia River and in the middle of the Columbia River Gorge, Hood River County is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts such as windsurfers, mountain-bikers, skiers, hikers, and kayakers.  

Qualities and Qualifications

  • A willingness to be visible and create effective partnerships with member districts•
  • Experience dealing with diverse student populations
  • A background of working in or effectively with a regional service agency and a belief in the values and importance of regional service agencies
  • Experience as a local superintendent preferred but not required
  • Possession of or eligible for an Oregon administrative license
  • An understanding of the unique values of rural communities
  • Successful experience supervising and evaluating special education and/or early childhood programs and staff
  • Knowledge of Oregon’s reform efforts including regional initiatives and the ability to promote effective educational improvement and successful instructional strategies
  • An understanding of the expanding role of technology in the education arena
  • Willing to actively and energetically represent Columbia Gorge ESD with the Oregon Association of ESDs, the Oregon Department of Education, and other state and regional partners
  • Knowledge of school law
  • A record of sound fiscal management
  • A willingness to be collaborative in the decision-making process but also capable of being a decisive decision-maker when necessary
  • A management style that is open, honest, fair, ethical, and supportive
  • Willing to live in an area readily-accessible to the CGESD

 Board Members

Paul Zastrow, Hood River, chair
Libby Robinson, The Dalles
Scott McKay, The Dalles
Suze Nigl, Hood River
Karen Slusher, Dufur
Charlene Fort, Hood River
Susan Gabay, Mosier

Application Procedures / Timelines / Compensation

The district is offering a contract in the $115,000-120,000 range including a generous benefits package including pickup by the district of the PERS contribution.  The length of the contract is negotiable.   

Applications are due March 31, 2017, however the district retains the option of accepting applications until the position is filled.  Application information may be obtained from the consultant, George Murdock.  It is the goals of the CGESD to complete the selection process by its regularly-scheduled board meeting on April 19, 2017.  

Those interested in pursuing this position are urged to contact Northwest Leadership Associates through George Murdock at 541-278-4691 or at  Contacts may also be made with Dr. Dennis Ray at  While the final deadline is March 31, interested candidates are encouraged to let their interest be known as soon as possible.

  A Completed Application Packet should include:

  • A letter of interest addressing the qualities, qualifications, and expectations outlined in this posting
  • Resume’ including information about potential references
  • Four letters of recommendation
  • A completed application form (to request an application, contact George Murdock or via phone 541-278-4691

For additional information regarding the position, please contact:

George Murdock
Northwest  Leadership Associates
191 NW Johns Lane
Pendleton, Oregon 97801
Phone: 541-278-4691

Candidates sending materials by anything other than the U. S. Postal Service are encouraged to contact the consultant in advance.

Candidates are reminded materials received in advance of the deadline can often receive a more
comprehensive review


The Columbia Gorge ESD is an equal opportunity educator and employer and actively seeks minority applicants