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Superintendent candidates make final appearance

This week the community and Central Kitsap School District staff got a closer glimpse of three men hoping to be the next superintendent. They saw Bernard Oliver, with a career centered around higher education, Col. Gregory Lynch who with 27 years in the Army hopes to retire and enter the public education arena, and Tim Culver, who took a more traditional route beginning as a teacher and winding his way to a superintendency in Wisconsin.

Each candidate toured the district, answered questions from the media, staff, community and school board. The CK School Board is expected to decide as soon as this week who will replace Cathy Davidson when she retires in June.

Bernard Oliver

The ninth of 17 children Bernard Oliver credits his parents for instilling his love for children and education. Although the majority of his career has been at the collegiate level, he currently serves as assistant superintendent for high school education for Virginia Beach (Va.) City Public Schools. The district has a student enrollment of 75,000 and a budget of $370 million.

Previously he served as a dean, professor and endowed chair at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and as a dean and professor at Washington State University.

While at WSU he was recruited and selected as a candidate for the superintendent of the Los Angeles-area school district. He recalled being led by armed guards to the interview and being hidden from the press.

His experience at Central Kitsap impressed him.

“I like what I see. There’s opportunity to do some collaborative work here,” he said.

Oliver, the father of four children and grandfather of five, visited the district Monday.

He believes in being accessible to people 24/7 “so that people can ask those difficult questions.” He also plans to be visible in the classrooms, spending one day a week in the schools.

“That’s where the work is,” he said.

Gregory Lynch

He says he’ll retire this summer after 27 years in the Army and hopes the family’s 19th move will be to Central Kitsap. His time with the military has given him the skills and knowledge he needs to manage the school district he said.

“I don’t have any biases,” he said that might come with a career in public education. Lynch is a strong believer in collaboration and treating people with dignity and respect.

“A leader’s got to be accessible. The higher you go, the more you need to be,” he said.

Lynch is currently the dean of academics, Army Command and General Staff College, U.S. Army, Fort Leavenworth, Kan. There he oversees 15,000 students, 600 employees and a budget of about $60 million. He served as the director of the Army School, Fort Leavenworth. He also served as the Brigade Commander of the Army Brigade at Fort Polk, La., and as the Deputy Commander of the U.S. Army Training there.

Lynch received his bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and human behavior and development from Drexel University in 1977, his master’s degree in management from Webster University in 1989, and is currently seeking a degree in education administration from Benedictine College.

He typically begins his day at about 4:15 a.m. checking his e-mail then jogging 3-4 miles as the sun comes up. He is typically in the office at about 7:45 a.m. and leaves work at 6 or 7 p.m.

His primary reason for leaving the military is his 13-year-old daughter whom he wants to see grow up in a stable educational environment.

During his visit to the district Tuesday he said he was impressed with the professionalism and the candor of the staff.

He briefly addressed No Child Left Behind and resource management, two challenges facing CKSD.

Tim Culver

Currently the superintendent for Sun Prairie (Wis.) School District, Tim Culver wants to return to western Washington, where he began his career.

“Today was a wonderful experience with the school district,” he said during his visit Wednesday.

Culver, also a finalist in the Lake Stevens School District’s search, said he hopes both districts come up with a match that fits.

He supports collaboration and a certain level of conflict when making decisions.

“Conflict is a good thing as long as it’s handled constructively,” he said. Conflict allows people to see all aspects of an issue rather than just the side they support.

Culver has led the Sun Prairie District since 1998. The district, in a suburb of Madison, has a student enrollment of 5,200 with 717 employees and a budget of $44.6 million. Previously he was an assistant superintendent, a principal and an assistant principal for the Marysville School District, where he spent 10 years. He was a counselor for the Everett School District and began his teaching career in 1978 in Auburn.

His traditional background has its positive and negatives he said.

“I’ve walked in the shoes of the people who are doing the work right now. I might not have an outside perspective on that,” he said.

He is the father of two grown children and hopes to return to Washington because his wife’s family lives here.

Culver hopes to break down barriers that tend to keep parents out of the schools. In Sun Prairie he recently had a parent night with parents of ESL students. An interpreter helped Culver see just how much the parents cared about their children’s education. From that meeting, an Intercultural Task Force is being formed to address issues such as language barriers.

“Schools work best when children are engaged,” Culver said.

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