Interim Tukwila schools superintendent outlines plans for district

The Tukwila School Board recently appointed Judith Berry to lead the district, following the resignation of Superintendent Nancy Coogan.

Coogan, who worked for the district for four years, stepped down on Aug. 30 to attend to family matters.

“She is opting to address and take care of her family,” said T.C. Wallace, executive director of human resources and labor relations. “She felt at this point in time, she had a responsibility to her family and took that opportunity to be with family.”

Berry, who had been the district’s deputy superintendent, is serving as interim superintendent.

The school board has not determined the long-range plans for replacing Coogan, Dave Larson, the board’s vice president and legislative representative, said in an email on Sept. 7.

“The board will make an announcement when that decision is made,” Larson said.

Berry joined the district in April 2015, initially contracted to help with federal title grant compliance and then as assistant superintendent for finance and operations. In March 2016, Berry was hired as deputy superintendent.

Berry said she plans to focus primarily on three areas this school year: student success; fiscal management; and business management.

The district will continue to provide students with a contemporary curriculum to ensure they are college and career ready, partner with businesses and industry to give students workplace experience and increase engagement with students and their families, Berry said in an outline of her plans.

She said she will work to right-size the district’s budget to meet student needs and oversee ongoing construction projects funded by a $99 million bond measure voters approved in 2016.

Projects include finishing renovations at Cascade View Elementary and construction of a new office building at the bus barn; renovating the old Foster Library, which will house the maintenance and operations and the data and technology departments; awarding contracts for the addition and renovation of Foster High School.

Berry is married to Mandeville Berry Jr. and has two adult children, Ebony and Randy.

The district hired Coogan as superintendent in 2013, replacing Ethelda Burke — who was placed on administrative leave and resigned in July 2012, following allegations the district created a hostile work environment for 10 of its employees based on their race, sex or color.

In February, the Tukwila Education Association issued a vote of no confidence in Coogan and called on her to resign or be removed, citing the mismanagement of district funds under her leadership, her inability to hire and maintain a stable district leadership team and her inability to maintain transparent, respectful communication with staff.