Community

Mack readies for role as interim superintendent of Lakewood schools

Dr. Michael Mack. - Kirk Boxleitner
Dr. Michael Mack.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

LAKEWOOD — Although he currently serves as director of student services and Career and Technical Education for the Lakewood School District, Dr. Michael Mack will step into a new role starting on April 19, when he replaces Dr. Dennis Haddock as the district's acting superintendent.

And while Mack's contract as superintendent only runs through June 30, in time for a new superintendent to be sworn in by July 1, he hopes to apply for the job and turn his temporary position into a long-term one.

Of his 33 years in education, Mack has served the past six in Lakewood, after stints in the Enumclaw, Lake Washington and Stanwood school districts, as well as his years spent serving as director of an international school in Latvia.

"Lakewood is home for me," Mack said. "My wife teaches in the district, and all three of our children have gone to school here. My youngest is graduating this year."

Mack expects he'll only need to carry out the duties of interim superintendent for a couple of months, before a more permanent successor to Haddock can be found. Nonetheless, Mack deemed that window of time as vitally important for school district policies and operations.

"We'll be focusing on our staffing and budget," Mack said. "Prior to a new superintendent being installed, we'll need to make some decisions in those areas, if only to ensure that we live within our means as a district."

Before any such new superintendent can be hired, Mack explained that the district must first settle on a search consultant to help them seek out and screen candidates.

"There are about three or four different groups who do most of that work in this area, if not the state as a whole," Mack said. "They'll facilitate exchanges between school district staff and the surrounding community, to help us settle on what traits we're looking for in a new superintendent, and what areas of the district need to be tended to the most."

After those consultants guide the district through the process of crafting application forms for this position, Mack elaborated that the respondents would be whittled down, first to a likely number of six semifinalists, then to three finalists, each of whom would have their own day set aside for site visits to schools within the district.

"It's a process that we should probably wrap up sooner rather than later," Mack said. "The whole search hopefully shouldn't take more than five to six weeks, once it actually kicks off, so that our incoming superintendent can meet with district officials in early June, and if the new super isn't me, then I can meet with them to do a proper transition."

Mack extolled the unique virtues of the Lakewood School District, whose nature as a community he noted sets it slightly apart from those of neighboring Arlington and Marysville.

"Arlington and Marysville have mayors and city councils, but for Lakewood, the school district is our community," Mack said. "These schools are our focal point. They're critical to who we are. They're already vibrant, but they can be enhanced. Dennis has done a nice job here, and I'd be glad to continue that work. Lakewood is a little bit of Heaven, with a slower pace than the rest of the world, and it's essential that we build the foundation for our future by providing our kids with the best chance to succeed."

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