Battle Ground Public Schools' Superintendent Mark Hottowe has announced that he will retire this summer after a 41-year career in education and three years as head of the district. At its meeting Monday night, the board unanimously appointed Mark Ross, Battle Ground's Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, to be the next superintendent effective July 1.
During their meeting, board members noted that Hottowe had made them aware when he was hired that he would serve just three or four years as superintendent. With this knowledge, board members have been considering options, including the possibility of tapping the next superintendent from inside the district to continue the momentum of Battle Ground's initiatives in strategic planning and providing a quality education and social-emotional learning. On Monday, the board held an executive session to discuss the qualifications of Ross, the district's Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning since 2014.
After the executive session, board member Stephanie McClintock made a motion "to appoint Mark Ross as BGPS superintendent working with Mark Hottowe as of today for a smooth transition with a contract starting July 1, 2017. Mark Ross has been working with Mark Hottowe for the last couple of years in preparation for a superintendent role due to the fact that Mark Hottowe had committed to working with Battle Ground for three to four years." Board members approved the motion 5-0.
"The board feels we have the best candidate here in the district," said Monty Anderson, president of the Battle Ground Public Schools Board of Directors. "Mark Ross has proven he can do the work and he knows this district and our community. We expect a smooth and seamless transition as Mark Hottowe retires and Mark Ross begins his tenure as our new superintendent. We couldn't be more pleased with his acceptance of our offer."
Ross thanked the board and said he is honored and looking forward to working with Mark Hottowe through a smooth transition. "This is a wonderful district. We have great people and a dedicated board, and we will continue in a positive direction," Ross said. "I'm very excited to be a part of what we have done in providing an outstanding educational experience, continuing the work in social-emotional learning, and ensuring that we have equitable facilities for all our students and staff."
During their discussion before the vote, several board members said Ross has demonstrated leadership during his tenure with the district and that they are pleased with the direction that the district is heading and are convinced Ross will continue this work to benefit students.
"This district needs continuity," said Mavis Nickels, board vice president. Over the last two years, Ross has overseen the district's Teaching and Learning department, including social-emotional learning, curriculum and instruction, professional development, assessment, special education, career and technical education, federal programs and grants, and instructional leadership for the district's 18 schools. He has worked collaboratively with school staff to implement social-emotional and strategic education initiatives at the district's 18 schools.
Ross started his career in 1982 as a language arts teacher and athletic coach at Camas High School. He also taught and coached in the Issaquah and Renton school districts before serving as assistant principal and dean of students at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Wash. In 2000, Ross returned to southwest Washington where he held assistant principal, athletic director, and principal positions in the Evergreen and Vancouver school districts. He also had stints as the assistant superintendent of teaching and learning at Washougal School District and the executive director of secondary education at Evergreen School District.
Current Superintendent Mark Hottowe has led the district through many changes in his three years as superintendent. One of his goals has been to highlight the importance of social-emotional learning in the district to help supports the needs of all students. Last year he was named the Champion for Children by the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the Foundation for Healthy Generations. Hottowe was instrumental in Battle Ground's receipt of the $2.5 million federal Project AWARE grant to support student mental health and wellness over five years. He also oversaw the development and implementation of a Strategic Plan and encouraged the board and community to create a Long-Term Facilities Plan for the district.
Hottowe began his career teaching Native American students in Neah Bay before serving as an assistant principal at Sumner School District, a principal in the Longview School District, the director of student services and the executive director of supervision and human resources for the Kelso School District, and the superintendent of Ocean Beach School District in Long Beach.
Hottowe said he has enjoyed his time in Battle Ground. "We have accomplished many of the goals we established when I was appointed superintendent three years ago. What we have put in place will continue in years to come, providing the best education for our students."
Established in 1909, Battle Ground Public Schools (Battle Ground School District No. 119) is the 24th largest school district in the state of Washington. The district is home to 18 schools, serving the educational needs of 13,000 students. With more than 1,700 employees, Battle Ground Public Schools is the largest employer in Battle Ground.