Richland schools are getting a new leader in July. But she’s no surprise for the district


Richland’s school superintendent will hand off the reigns to Deputy Superintendent Nicole MacTavish at the end of the school year.

The district is moving forward with a plan that it put in place when the school board hired MacTavish after a six-month search in 2017.

As part of her contract, she was to replace current Superintendent Rick Schulte at the end of the 2018-19 school year unless the district made a different choice. And the school board hasn’t done that.

She has been leading the district’s academic programs while she worked with Schulte to learn the job.

In the past year, she has been taking a larger role in dealing with the public, most recently with the community forums focusing on special education and possible budget cuts.

MacTavish led schools in Oregon and Idaho for about five years before returning to Washington.

Her most recent stint was in Nampa, Idaho, where she started as the executive director of teaching and learning, and then moved on to become the assistant superintendent, said the district.

Before she moved into administrative roles in the early 2000s, MacTavish worked as a high school counselor and later as an English teacher.

Once she earned her principal certification in 2002, she moved into administration at middle and high schools.

Schulte worked with MacTavish before

During her time at the Whidbey Island district, she worked for Schulte. He spent 20 years leading the Oak Harbor School District before coming to Richland in 2013.

At the time, the 64-year-old Schulte was the longest serving superintendent in Oak Harbor. He started at that district in 1987 as an assistant superintendent and stepped into the superintendent spot six years later.

Schulte provided some stability to a district administration when he was hired. He came in as the third superintendent in four years.

During his time in Richland, the district has added about 2,000 students, replaced several elementary schools, built a new middle school and is getting money to build two new elementary schools.

Cameron Probert covers breaking news and education for the Tri-City Herald, where he tries to answer readers’ questions about why police officers and firefighters are in your neighborhood. He studied communications at Washington State University.