New superintendent announced for Nanaimo school district

Scott Saywell, assistant superintendent, gets promotion

Scott Saywell has been chosen as the new superintendent and chief executive officer for Nanaimo school district. Photo submitted

Nanaimo school district’s assistant superintendent Scott Saywell is moving up the chain of command.

Saywell has been chosen as the new superintendent and chief executive officer for Nanaimo school district, board chairman Steve Rae announced.

Superintendent John Blain will retire this summer after about four decades working in education, including 20 years in Nanaimo, and the school district has been involved in trying to find his replacement since September.

RELATED: Nanaimo-Ladysmith superintendent will retire at the end of the school year

Saywell, who takes over Aug. 1, calls himself a “product” of the school district, graduating from NDSS in 1981. The majority of his career – 24 years – has also been in this school district and making a bid for the superintendent position was the next step, said Saywell, who’s grateful, humbled, anxious and nervous about his appointment.

“Mostly grateful,” said Saywell, who admits he’s got big shoes to fill. “[Blain has] put the district in such a good position moving forward, we can really concentrate on teaching and learning more than we have in the past.”

Saywell does see a number of priorities and challenges ahead, the largest being recruitment and retention of teaching and support staff.

The school district has hired close to 200 teachers in a little over a year, but Saywell said the district is still short and that on many days there are not enough teachers on call in the system to cover sick leave and other absences. A priority will be on recruitment efforts as well as the district’s aboriginal graduation rate, which Saywell said will be his “unrelenting focus.”

Steve Rae, board chairman, said the board was very impressed with the pool of talent the school district attracted from across Canada and internationally.

“However it was clear that Mr. Saywell possesses the necessary experience to guide the district for our next generation of learners,” he said in a press release. “In deciding who would be the next superintendent, the board conducted a thorough evaluation of the most qualified individuals and also considered its goals, vision and the positive direction it has taken these past number of years.

“The board has unwavering confidence in Mr. Saywell and that his vision for increasing success for all students will aid in continuing our reputation as a lighthouse district in B.C. education.”

The school district hired Go Futures Human Resources Inc. to help with an application and hiring process, and gave the school board, senior staff and partner groups the chance to provide feedback on what experience they feel is required of the next superintendent. The public was also invited to give feedback through an online survey, a press release shows. No information, however, was shared about the feedback in the statement.

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