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Last spring, Spotsylvania schools welcomed the newly hired Superintendent Shelley Redinger. Now, she's a candidate for a job in Washington state.
By PAMELA GOULD
After less than a year in Spotsylvania County, Superintendent Shelley K. Redinger is one of two finalists for a school chief job in Washington state.
Redinger said Monday that a search firm looking for the next superintendent for the Spokane Public Schools division contacted her earlier this year.
She said she provided her application because of the deteriorating health of family members who live in the Spokane area.
"If it wasn't this situation and the timing, I wouldn't even look at it," Redinger said.
Redinger said her mother has been battling cancer but within the past year her condition declined noticeably.
When the search firm contacted her in January, Redinger said, she "did not warm up to the idea immediately."
But, after her parents visited Spotsylvania in February, she decided to consider the possibility of leaving the county.
"I love Spotsylvania," Redinger said. "Everyone has been so supportive. We have great schools. The community has been wonderful."
When Redinger, 44, arrived in Spotsylvania last summer, she said she planned to stay long-term.
She and her husband, Darin Redinger, were looking for a community where they could raise their son, Logan, who is in third grade.
She flew to Spokane on Friday and was one of six applicants interviewed by that school district's board of directors.
She was announced as one of three finalists, but one man has since withdrawn his name from consideration.
Spokane officials could announce their decision as early as mid-April, division spokeswoman Terren Roloff said.
Spotsylvania School Board members said Monday that they were surprised by the news and would hate to see Redinger go, but were sympathetic about her situation.
"I'm shocked and was taken a little back," said board member Amanda Blalock. "At the same time, I understand her need to be around her family right now and I support her in that effort."
If Redinger gets hired by the Spokane school division, Blalock said, it would create a "gaping hole" here.
Board member Ray Lora said it "would be a big loss."
"I hate to see her even think of leaving," board member Bill Blaine said. "I think she's done an exemplary job."
School Board Chairwoman Linda Wieland said Redinger told her about her application in February when she realized the search firm might be calling her for a reference.
Wieland said Redinger asked her not to share that information and she honored the request.
Spokane is the second largest school district in Washington state, but it is not significantly larger than Spotsylvania.
Spokane's enrollment is 29,275 and employs 3,226 people. It has a total of 45 schools: 34 elementary, six middle schools and five high schools.
Spotsylvania's enrollment is 23,844 and employs 3,026 people. The division has 33 facilities including 17 elementary schools, seven middle schools, five high schools and four other educational facilities.
The other finalists were Alexander Apostle, superintendent of Missoula County Public Schools in Missoula, Mont., and Gregory Firn, superintendent of Anson County schools in Wadesboro, N.C.
Firn withdrew his application on Sunday, citing personal reasons, Roloff said. He has overseen the 3,900-student Anson school district for four years.
Apostle, who has ties to Washington state, has overseen the 8,750-student Missoula school district for four years, according to information from the Spokane school division.
Redinger came to Spotsylvania after four years as superintendent of the Oregon Trail School District, a division of about 4,100 students.
She grew up in Washington state and earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Washington State University. She received her doctorate from the University of South Carolina.
On Sunday, Redinger notified Spotsylvania School Board members that she was a finalist for the superintendent's position in Spokane.
On Monday, she told her staff.
"We felt that it was important to share this information with the staff and community," Wieland said. "Although we don't want to lose her, we understand her need to be closer to her family."
Wieland added that the division has been pleased with Redinger's performance over the past nine months and "no matter the outcome [of her application] we will continue to support her efforts."
Blalock said people in the community have been expressing disappointment that Redinger might be leaving.
"She has definitely earned a lot of fans," Blalock said. "She is very popular--not someone we wanted to see go."
Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972