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Ashland School District hires new superintendent amidst financial challenges

Ashland Senior High School.
Erik Neumann
Ashland Senior High School.

The Ashland School District hired a new superintendent Tuesday night. The decision comes as the district faces a shrinking student population and staff cuts.

Dr. Joseph Hattrick was picked by the Ashland School Board to replace retiring Superintendent Samuel Bogdanove.

Hattrick comes to Southern Oregon from the Rainier School District, north of Portland, where he’s been superintendent for almost four years. He’ll receive a yearly salary of $193,000, according to the contract approved by the board.

“It's clear that this board takes the role as stewards of this great community very seriously,” Hattrick said at the meeting. “I do look forward to serving with you all just to ensure excellence and belonging for every student, and that we continue to inspire learning and curiosity for every person who walks through our doors.”

The school board received more than 60 applications for the job, and winnowed the pool down to a handful of finalists.

His appointment comes as the Ashland School District grapples with having fewer students than past years and financial challenges. The district has around 300 fewer students than 2017. The decline corresponds to a $3 million decrease in state funding.

Earlier this month, the school board approved the process to begin laying off some staff to fill a $1.3 million budget deficit. During Tuesday's meeting board members said they were excited about Hattrick’s financial experience managing struggling districts.

“He's worked in districts that were over-extended to the point of having to do spending freezes and hiring freezes on a regular yearly basis, and was able to turn those around them to bring them to a surplus,” said Board Member Russell Hatch.

Hattrick will start this July.

Roman Battaglia is a regional reporter for Jefferson Public Radio. After graduating from Oregon State University, Roman came to JPR as part of the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism in 2019. He then joined Delaware Public Media as a Report For America fellow before returning to the JPR newsroom.