By Kailey Fisicaro

The Bulletin

Crook County School District will be on the lookout for a new leader as Superintendent Duane Yecha has announced he’ll retire at the end of this school year.

Yecha, who has been with the school district seven years, announced his planned retirement at an August school board meeting. Now, the board is planning how to search for its next superintendent.

“It is time for me to retire after 38 years,” Yecha said in an email, adding he announced his retirement a year in advance to give the district “the best opportunity to find a suitable replacement.”

Yecha was a superintendent, principal and teacher before coming to Crook County.

Crook County School Board Chairman Doug Smith said the board appreciated the year’s notice and that Yecha has done a “wonderful job.”

“Seven years has been a great run with Duane, I’d wish he stay two more,” Smith said.

Smith explained Yecha’s predecessor was faced with digging the district out of a financial hole over two school years, which wasn’t fun, Smith said, but necessary. When Yecha arrived, it was with the expectation that he could help turn a new leaf in Crook County.

“Then we found the right person to rebuild relationships with staff, improve graduation rates and improve scores in almost every way,” Smith said.

Yecha has staff believing in the district, Smith said.

“We’ve got a long ways to go but we’re moving in the right direction,” Smith said.

The school board sent out a request for proposal to 11 firms that could help in the superintendent search process, Smith said. It is common for school boards to contract with specialists to guide them through the superintendent search process. The school district used a consultant to find Yecha.

Smith said the school board will likely do a regional search, focusing on applicants from Oregon and nearby states, as opposed to a national search. The school board plans to decide on a search firm to contract with at its Nov. 13 meeting, Smith said.

For the next superintendent, the board would like to find someone who will continue to improve district math scores, which Smith said have to get better, and who will keep up the “great relationship” the district has with its union and staff.

“But we also think we’re looking for someone with fresh ideas,” Smith said.

— Reporter: 541-383-0325,