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June 12 'Farewell Reception' planned for outgoing Arlington superintendent
ARLINGTON As Linda Byrnes completes the tasks she usually does this time of year, there are several extra things she must do.
"I am documenting everything I do so that they will know next year what and how to do it," Byrnes said recently in a telephone interview with The Arlington Times. She is also introducing the new superintendent, Kristine McDuffy, around town.
A reception to honor the retiring Byrnes will be held at Haller Middle School from 3 - 6 p.m., Thursday, June 12.
Byrnes explained why she decided to retire now.
"We are at a point with all the facilities in place to launch an effort on curriculum development that will take about five years," she said. "I could stay another couple of years and decided it would be best for a new person to follow that effort from start to finish. And Kris is the perfect person for that, with her experience teaching administrators."
Byrnes' last day on the job as superintendent of Arlington School District is June 30. Kristine McDuffy will take over the office July 1.
"I am leaving the office, but will stay in Arlington," Byrnes has said since announcing her retirement early this year that she won't be going anywhere.
"We are committed to this community," she said. Byrnes' husband, Denny Byrnes, is also retiring this summer from the Everett School District. They have planned a one-week cruise to Alaska after the Fourth of July.
Byrnes has enjoyed having time to introduce the new superintendent around town.
"It took a year for me to figure out who the players were," Byrnes said, adding she remembered very little overlap with the former superintendent when she started the job.
"Kris won't miss a beat," she said.
"Western [Washington University] has been very gracious about her schedule," allowing her to attend a lot of meetings in Arlington already.
Byrnes noted one of the unique things about running schools in Arlington is that the district works closely with all the other agencies including, especially, the city and the hospital.
"We don't operate independently. The relationships already exist," Byrnes said. "We all have each other's cell phone numbers."
Byrnes predicts that McDuffy has already met all the administrators and about three-quarters of the teachers. She has met city officials and sat in on the recent joint meeting between the city and the district.
Byrnes said that Arlington is unique in that it is still a community school district, not a bedroom community.
"It's one of the things that I was attracted to here."
Originally from Moses Lake, Byrnes notices that people in community school districts like Arlington's get involved more in school activities than do bedroom communities.
Likewise, school district administrators join community service groups, although it's not mandatory, Byrnes said.
"We are represented in the Lions, the Kiwanis and at Rotary," said Byrnes who is an active Rotarian. "Kris was involved in Rotary when she worked at Lakewood so that relationship is set."
Byrnes believes that public service is important not only for superintendents, but for all.
"I believe it's everyone's obligation to give public service, to be on a board of your choice, whether it's a fire district or a sewer district or a city council."
Byrnes served on Lake Stevens City Council when she worked there and has been on many boards, formerly of the Stilly Senior Center and the Snohomish County Boys & Girls Club, United Way of Snohomish County, Work Force Development Council and on the Homeless Committee of Snohomish County. She was actively involved in advocating for locating the University of Washington campus in north county and is involved in professional organizations as well.
She doesn't deny that she might run for public office sometime in the future, but hasn't decided what office or when.
As for the future of education, Byrnes is confident that the United States will continue to be competitive.
"I have no doubt we are in good hands. Every year I interview Arlington's top 10 graduates and they make me confident our future is good."
The accomplishment she is most proud of?
"I am proud of the quality of people who work for the district. I believe the most critical thing is to keep good people and bring in more good people. I always want the people around me to be smarter than me," she said.