Richland Superintendent Rick Schulte is not retiring as planned. New contract is signed

Richland teachers and others pack school board meeting

Amid worries of deep cuts in Richland schools, hundreds attended April 16 board meeting.
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Amid worries of deep cuts in Richland schools, hundreds attended April 16 board meeting.

Richland schools Superintendent Rick Schulte will serve another year as head of the district.

He did not retire as planned at the end of the 2018-19 school year after the school board asked if he wound extend his contract.

He plans to continue as superintendent for the next school year under a one-year contract extension, according to the Richland School District.

Richland School Superintendent Rick Schulte
Rick Schulte

Deputy Superintendent Nicole MacTavish had been awarded a contract to take over as superintendent as of July 1, but that did not happen, said Ty Beaver, the school district’s communications manager.

MacTavish continues as a deputy superintendent.

Beaver declined to give a reason for the change of plans, but said there had been discussions between MacTavish and the school board.

Neither Schulte nor MacTavish were available Tuesday to talk about the change.

Superintendent candidate search

The board picked MacTavish to replace Schulte after a six-month search in 2017. The district’s website has listed her as its “successor superintendent.”

When the search began in late 2016, Schulte did not have plans for retirement, but said it was likely to happen sooner rather than later.

The long lead time was planned to give a deputy superintendent time to get to know the district schools, the school board and the community before possibly becoming superintendent.

MacTavish mug
Nicole MacTavish

MacTavish was hired in spring 2017 with the plan that she would take over for Schulte this month.

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 two of the spring community forums focusing on special education and new budgets.

MacTavish, who is from Kent, Wash., was the assistant superintendent in Nampa, Idaho, before taking the Richland job.

Her Richland School District bio says she was the first member of her family to attend college and she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Washington.

She and Schulte had previously worked together in the Whidbey Island district, where Schulte served as superintendent for 20 years before coming to Richland.

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

Senior staff writer Annette Cary covers Hanford, energy, the environment, science and health for the Tri-City Herald. She’s been a news reporter for more than 30 years in the Pacific Northwest.