After a months-long search, the Snoqualmie Valley School Board has named Joel Aune of the Colfax School District to be the new superintendent...

Share story

After a months-long search, the Snoqualmie Valley School Board has named Joel Aune of the Colfax School District to be the new superintendent of Snoqualmie Valley Schools.

Aune, the current superintendent at Colfax, Whitman County, will begin work in Snoqualmie on June 30. He will replace Rich McCullough, who has accepted a teaching position at Washington State University.

The School Board’s vote was unanimous. More than two dozen candidates applied for the job, which McCullough has held for the past 17 years.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

Aune was chosen above two other finalists: Fred Poss, deputy superintendent of the Mukilteo School District, and Larry C. Parsons, superintendent of the Selah School District in Yakima County.

Board member Kristy Sullivan yesterday praised all three finalists as outstanding candidates. But she said Aune was the best fit for the 4,000-student Snoqualmie Valley district, known for innovative programs and a small-town feel.

Yesterday, Aune said he and his family were “just tickled pink” to be picked. “The more we looked at it, the more it just felt right.”

Raised on a farm in Lacrosse, Whitman County, Aune earned a master’s degree in educational administration from Central Washington University.

He began his career in the Cashmere School District in Chelan County as a fourth-grade teacher before entering the administrative ranks.

After working as principal of an elementary school in Walla Walla, he served in a two-year superintendent internship in the district.

Aune became the superintendent of the Colfax schools in 1998.

As the leader of that 800-student district, Aune recently represented rural districts on a statewide committee on furthering education reform. He also has become a leader in the Washington Association of School Administrators. Aune also is working on a doctorate from Washington State University.

Sullivan described Aune as someone on the cutting edge of education.

“The people he worked with [in Colfax] had incredibly positive things to say about him, not just professionally, but as a person,” Sullivan said. “You could tell they didn’t want to lose him.”

The fact that Aune will have an elementary-school-age son in the Snoqualmie schools also worked in his favor, Sullivan said.

After seven years in Colfax, Aune said he is ready for new challenges.

The Snoqualmie Valley School District is growing, with an elementary school slated to open in September and a middle school scheduled to open in the next few years.

“You’re large enough that you have the ability to do some innovative things,” he said.

“At the same time, you’re not so large that you can’t get folks focused and moving in the right direction.”

Cara Solomon: 206-464-2024 or csolomon@seattletimes.com