A plan crafted by J. Tim Mills, the new superintendent of the Bellevue School District, centers on getting to know the community, establishing a strong relationship with the School Board, setting expectations for the administrative staff and figuring out a vision that will ensure the district's success over the next five to 10 years.

Share story

J. Tim Mills won’t start as Bellevue’s superintendent until July 2, but already he has crafted a nine-point plan for his first year on the job.

The 59-year-old Mills, who beat two other finalists and earned a unanimous vote from the Bellevue School Board May 29, is currently leading the North Clackamas School District in Oregon.

His plan for Bellevue centers on getting to know the community, establishing a strong relationship with the School Board, setting expectations for the administrative staff and figuring out a vision that will ensure the district’s success over the next five to 10 years.

He said he will also focus on developing a strategy for ensuring that all minority and special-needs students receive equal and equitable treatment.

“I’m very excited to get started,” Mills said in a telephone interview. “I can’t wait.”

Bellevue’s reputation as a high-performing district drew Mills to the job, he said.

Indeed, the district of about 18,000 students is known as one of the country’s best — a recent issue of Newsweek magazine ranked three of its high schools (International, Newport and Interlake) among the 120 best in the U.S.

But Mills will face challenges: the school district’s teachers union voted no confidence in his predecessor, Amalia Cudeiro, who resigned in January to care for her ailing mother. And the district must deal with the challenge of simultaneously raising achievement of high-performing kids and low ones.

Mills said he didn’t know much about the issues with the union but was acutely aware of the second challenge.

“It’s a moral obligation that we have as a school district to connect every student to their journey in learning and for us to understand where they are and how we move them forward,” he said during one of two community forums during his interview in Bellevue.

In an interview, Mills said his 13 years as a school superintendent have prepared him for the Bellevue job.

A former high-school band teacher, he spent most of his career in Arizona and Colorado, where he was superintendent in the Mesa Valley County and Brush Public school districts.

He was named Colorado’s superintendent of the year in 2009 before moving to North Clackamas.

In that suburban Portland district, Mills earned praise for his efforts to engage parents and businesses, as well as his management of state budget cuts.

The pain of those budget cuts was part of the reason he wanted to leave North Clackamas, according to School Board members there.

Mills, an avid golfer, is married with three grown children.

Brian M. Rosenthal: 206-464-3195 or brosenthal@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @brianmrosenthal.