By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Mac hires new superintendent

## Debbie Brockett
## Debbie Brockett

“I think you are the person who can take us to the next step,” board member Barbara Carter told her.

The Nevada woman was the top finalist from a field of about two dozen applicants. Working with search firm Human Capital Enterprises, board members narrowed the list first to five, then to three. Each finalist visited McMinnville during the second week of March to tour the city and its schools, meet with a panel of educators and residents, and go through an in-depth interview with the board.

[See also: Brockett focuses on equity]

Board Chairman Larry Vollmer termed all three finalists excellent. He and his fellow board members chose Brockett because “we also were looking for the right fit.”

Board member Gerardo Partida said the new superintendent has “the knowledge, charisma and confidence” to lead the district.

Brockett said she applied for the McMinnville job because of the district’s solid reputation, data-based decision-making, and strong achievement. In addition, she said, “there’s diversity here and a great equity lens.”

She also admires the location. And when board members said they expect the superintendent to attend events such as Friday night football games, “that sealed the deal for me.”

Brockett will become superintendent July 1. She will be paid $180,000 in her first year and receive raises of $2,500 each year in the second and third years of her contract.

The district will pay her 6% PERS contribution. She also will receive the same health and disability insurance as other administrators.

Brockett is coming from the Clark County School District in the Las Vegas area. The fifth-largest district in the nation, Clark County has about 325,000 students, more than 15,000 teachers and several thousand other support staffers and administrators.

She has worked there for 26 years, first as a special education teacher, then as a middle and high school principal. Since 2019, she has been one of three region superintendents in the district, overseeing 108 of its schools.

In her new job, she will oversee a district with about 6,700 students, 800 staff members and nine schools.

She said her first step will be to “listen and learn.” She wants to know “each and every one” of the staff members, and she’s looking forward to getting to know the McMinnville community.

Brockett, 51, said she hopes to build on the outstanding work of her predecessor, Maryalice Russell.

Russell will retire in June after 19 years with the district. During her tenure, McMinnville schools’ academic scores have improved across the board, its graduation rate has increased to several points above the state average and its dropout rate has gone from double digits to less than 1%.

Voters approved two construction bond measures, in 2006 and 2016, allowing the district to remodel, add space and improve safety and energy savings in numerous buildings. The first bond expanded McMinnville High School; the second enlarged it again, added a career-tech center and built new classrooms and a new main gym. The 2006 bond measure also built Buel Elementary School and added classroom wings at several schools.

In addition, the district added preschool programs and half- to full-day kindergarten. It created career pathways and college-oriented programs such as college credit now, advanced placement and AVID at Mac High.

Several teachers, principals and classified staff members have won state and national honors since Russell joined the district. Russell herself was named Oregon superintendent of the year in 2012-13 and was a finalist for the national superintendent of the year honor.