LACEY — Former Seattle Public Schools superintendent Rajinder "Raj" Manhas has resurfaced as the new superintendent of North Thurston Public Schools.

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LACEY — Former Seattle Public Schools superintendent Rajinder “Raj” Manhas has resurfaced as the new superintendent of North Thurston Public Schools.

The North Thurston schools board Friday night selected the 60-year-old Manhas to replace Jim Koval, who is retiring. Manhas was superintendent of Seattle Public Schools from 2003 to 2007.

He will take over for Koval in Lacey on July 1.

In Seattle, Manhas announced he was leaving after four years on the schools job after his contract expired, calling it “a personal decision” he made in the interest of his family. He was criticized by Seattle parents in trying to erase a $35 million budget deficit in part by closing and consolidating schools.

In Lacey, he was selected by the North Thurston Public Schools board unanimously from among three finalists. The others were Molly Ringo, associate superintendent of K-12 Support at the Everett School District, and Glenn Gelbrich, deputy superintendent of the Salem-Keizer Public Schools in Oregon.

Manhas has been executive director for Seeds of Compassion, which organized last year’s Northwest visit by the Dalai Lama. He said after two years away, he wanted to return to public education.

“We’re honored that Mr. Manhas selected North Thurston Public Schools as the only district he applied at to become a superintendent,” North Thurston board president Aaron Owada said in a news release.

Manhas has a background in banking and finance.

He told The Olympian that North Thurston shares some cultural and ethnic similarities with Seattle and has a good plan for improving academic achievement.