Deborah Rumbaugh

Deborah Rumbaugh will become the new Stanwood Camano School District superintendent on July 1.

The Stanwood-Camano School Board selected Deborah Rumbaugh as the district's next superintendent after a vote early Friday.

The School Board voted unanimously for Rumbaugh after interacting with three finalists this week in daylong interviews and meetings throughout the district and community. Rumbaugh is currently the executive director of instructional leadership in the Highline School District in King County. She will start July 1.

Superintendent Jean Shumate announced in January that she was retiring in June after 20 years leading the district.

During a 40-minute semifinalist interview Saturday, May 8, Rumbaugh highlighted the district’s solid financial footing, identified addressing equity issues as a key endeavor moving forward and pinpointed emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic as a top priority. 

"We have experienced learning gaps … these gaps are potentially widened (during COVID)," she said during her May 8 interview about what would be among her first tasks as superintendent. "School leaders are quite thirsty for how to bridge that gap." 

She said the district's challenge this summer is to figure out how to safely return as many students and staff to classrooms as possible in the fall. 

Rumbaugh, who has a doctorate of education, has worked in the Highline School District since 2013 as a middle school principal and director of human resources before moving to her current role as an area superintendent in Highline. She was one of two finalists for the Edmonds School District superintendent job last year.

She said in an interview Friday that another initial task will be immersing herself in the Stanwood-Camano area.

“It’s important for me to take time to listen and understand the needs of the community,” said Rumbaugh, 51. “It is essential to develop relationships and trust and that comes with being visible.” 

Before joining Highline, she worked in the Auburn School District from 2003 to 2010 as a science teacher and dean of students, then as assistant principal of Kentwood High School in the Kent School District from 2010 to 2013. 

The Stanwood Camano School Board members each said they believe they chose the right candidate for the position from a deep pool of applicants.

"I'm really proud of the effort the community made to share their opinions," board member Ken Christoferson said during the meeting Friday. "I feel the one we chose will be the best fit for our district."

School Board president Natalie Hagglund said the board was impressed with her vision as a leader.

“She has a clear picture of what the district should look like in the coming years,” Hagglund said. “She’s interested in engaging with our community and being very hands on, very visible at events.”

Rumbaugh said she’s excited to build on the district’s Collective Commitment, strategic plan and equity initiatives.

“We want to make sure we’re all aligned on a comment set of goals with measurable outcomes,” she said. “The goal is to really ensure all the students have an opportunity to excel.”

Meanwhile, Rumbaugh and her husband — who have nine grown children — plan to spend time between now and her officials start date of July 1 meeting with Shumate, board members and other stakeholders in addition to house hunting. 

“I’m honored and humbled for this opportunity, and I’ll do everything in my power to make sure the district is in good hands,” she said.

Contact reporter Evan Caldwell at ecaldwell@scnews.com and follow him on Twitter @Evan_SCN for updates throughout the week and on Instagram @evancaldwell.scn for more photos.

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