Jane Stavem, one of the top executives at Lincoln Public Schools, has been named the superintendent of Lake Washington School District in the suburbs east of Seattle.

Six years ago LPS Superintendent Steve Joel hired Stavem to replace longtime leader Marilyn Moore as associate superintendent of instruction.

A native of Stromsburg, Stavem was superintendent of Blair Community Schools before Joel hired her — the first of four new members of his executive team he’d hire over the next year.

“She’s a tough act to follow,” said Joel. “She’s done a lot of amazing things.”

Last year she was a finalist for the superintendent position at Omaha Public Schools, and the first finalist to withdraw. Later the other two finalists also withdrew and OPS launched another search.

Her departure comes at a challenging time. Stavem is tentatively slated to start her new job in August — at the beginning of the school year in Lincoln, which always involves shifting staff to adjust to last-minute enrollment changes.

Joel said there are others who know how to handle those staffing issues and he’s been talking with members of Stavem's leadership team about how to proceed.

“We’ve got a lot of momentum built into the system, high-quality leaders that will keep things going,” he said.

Joel could appoint a new associate superintendent from within or appoint an interim.

Because most superintendents’ contracts in the Midwest go from July 1-June 30, many potential applicants would be locked into contracts now, Joel said, making it likely LPS would wait to post the position.

Stavem will become superintendent of an affluent district that covers 76 square miles between Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle. Located near the heart of the headquarters of tech giants Microsoft and Amazon, the district includes the cities of Kirkland, Redmond and a portion of Sammamish.

It is smaller than LPS — it has 29,572 students compared to Lincoln’s nearly 42,000 students. Nearly 52 percent of the students are white, another 28 percent are Asian and just 11 percent of the students come from low-income homes. It has 53 schools.

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Stavem said she's sad to leave Lincoln, but the Washington job was a great opportunity.

"It's a great district, there are a lot of similarities — rapid growth and a high-performing district — enough commonalities that it seemed like a good match," she said.

"It was a really hard decision because Lincoln is a great place," she said. 

Joel said Stavem was excellent at identifying leadership talent and she’s created a high-performing team at LPS.

“She’s a superintendent in almost every definition of the term because she leads such a large part of this organization,” Joel said.

She’s been an integral part of the district’s major initiatives, including raising test scores and the graduation rate, a technology plan that included a one-to-one Chromebook initiative, opening The Career Academy and starting a new program for students with serious behavioral needs. She’s also focused on partnerships to encourage innovation in the classroom.

Her salary at LPS is $226,774. Her salary at Lake Washington wasn't immediately available.

Stavem earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees from Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and got her first teaching job in the same city.

She returned to Nebraska in 2001 and spent six years at Columbus Public Schools as a principal and executive director of curriculum and instruction. She earned her educational doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2008.

The Washington school district began its search in mid-April. The other two finalists named last week were Paul Gordon, superintendent of Glen Ellyn School District 41 in Glen Ellyn, Illinois; and Erin Prince, former vice president of Education Policy, Chalkboard Project in Portland, Oregon.

LPS has exchanged executives with Washington before: Former LPS Superintendent Susan Gourley came to Lincoln from the Puyallup School District in Washington, about 35 miles south of Seattle.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7226 or mreist@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSreist.


Education reporter

Margaret Reist is a Lincoln native, the mom of three high school graduates now navigating college and an education junkie who covers students, teachers and policymakers inside and outside the K-12 classroom.

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